I know, for some people an afternoon at the prison does not constitute a good afternoon. But for me it is another matter. I love to go to the prison.... Why? Because I have "babies" there. Spiritual sons and daughters. Every since I started going to the prison years ago, people have thought it was a little strange. After all, everyone is looking for a way out of prison, not a way into prison... aren't they?
I have done prison ministry since I was a 14 year old kid at Bethel Chapel in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our youth leaders, Harvey and Yvonne Moore, had a heart for the prisoners and as a result, we had a young music group which sang and ministered in the prison at least monthly. I still remember most of the kids in the group and that has been 40 years ago. We formed bonds and ties which are lifetime ties. These are the people I can call after years and pick up exactly where we left off with our friendship.
Several of them married each other and went on to the mission field. Two couples served in Romania for years and years. I believe the reason for this love for others was instilled in us by our youth pastors and our parents. It became a part of our lives because we learned what it was to visit those in prison, pray for the sick, etc.
Last week, I drove a group to the prison to minster to the youth at the prison. I think in all, about twelve us us piled into my ministry pickup and drove the thirty miles to the prison. Most of those with me were young adults. The music, drew the kids, the love they saw demonstrated hooked them, like fish on a fishhook. The ones which touched my heart the most were the young boys who are a part of the 18th Street Gang. There are seven of them in a secluded part of the youth prison. This week, all week long, the Lord tugged at my heart to go and visit them again. So six of us piled into the pickup and went out there again.
It was a wonderful afternoon. When we arrived, they were locked down inside, but they were quickly released to the outside courtyard where they could spend time with us. They all walked out with huge smiles... Happy to see us. Two of them hugged me and wouldn't let go. Another sat with his arm on my shoulder the whole time. Several stated that the very best day they had experienced in prison was last Saturday when we came to visit them. There was a new boy this week and one from last week had been released.
I asked them to tell the new guy what happened and they said it was a wonderful experience. He made a decision for Christ after hearing them all talk about what had happened to them. One of them talked about the butterflies which he felt in his stomach, when he asked for forgiveness.
We studied the Bible and talked with them for almost two hours before we had to leave. They walked with us to the gate and kept hanging on to us and hugging us, they really didn't want us to leave.
No photos... I can't put the boys at risk... BUT THEY ARE EXCITED TO LEAVE THE PRISON AND START A NEW LIFE. Most will be visiting our church, we will add them to our youth group and the next thing you know they will be living good Christian lives...
You may want to read last Sunday's BLOG, to see what happened last week.