When I was in prison, you visited Me.

prison guard with keys outside dark prison cell

Hi, This is Tex.  My calling is discipleship: knowing, being, making and teaching others to make disciples for Jesus.  A big part of being a disciple is in being involved with “extra-church” activities, where you develop relationships with people who are NOT your garden variety church-goers.  Prison ministry is one of those activities.  I’ve been involved in prison ministry for about 16 years now, and the Holy Spirit moves in prisons in a way He hardly ever moves in traditional church.  Below is a letter from Jim, a brother of mine in the Jubilee Prison Ministry.  This story is about a prison ministry weekend that happened a few weeks ago near Houston.

I have been serving in prison on Jubilee or Kairos weekends for 17 years.  Many of you have supported my efforts over the years  (thank you!) and have often asked me what happens on these weekends.  So I thought you might enjoy the following story – I’m a CFO, cynic and pessimist but this story is miraculous (or very close to it).

I was the leader of Jubilee #1 at the Scott unit in Angleton 3 weeks ago.  One of my jobs was to assign the 25 or so talks to our volunteers.  Most of the Scott #1 volunteers were new, so I didn’t know them – so had little insight to help assign the right talk to the “right” person.  So I asked God to somehow intervene as I made “random” talk assignments.  I assigned the “Forgiving Others” talk to Joseph, one of 3 volunteers who came from San Antonio to serve.  Joseph is a relatively new Christian, and is also an ex offender, so when he heard about Jubilee he believed God had called him  and agreed to participate.  Our weekend started early Friday morning.  Joseph’s talk occurred Saturday afternoon.  Here is a summary of his talk:

“My little brother was murdered on April 1st.   I was very close to him, and was unbelievably upset, angry and full of hatred at the man who killed him.  I started planning my revenge – when, where and how I was going to kill the man who murdered my little brother.   But then I agreed to serve on this Jubilee weekend.  And then Jim assigned me this talk about forgiving others.   And then I started reading the  talk and what Jesus said about forgiving others.   I learned that if we don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive us.    Let me say that again:   If we don’t forgive others then God won’t forgive us.  (Matthew 6:14-15)  Guys, I have to be honest with you.  After I read this talk, I almost stayed in San Antonio.  And a dozen times before this talk, I almost got up and left this Prison.   I did not want to give this talk.  I did not want to forgive the man who murdered my brother.  There was no way I could possibly forgive him.   But all day yesterday and all day today I have been praying for God to give me the strength to do what He requires me to do.  Now let me make a few things clear.  Forgiving others doesn’t mean pretending what that man did was ok, or somehow minimizing his actions.  It doesn’t mean all of a sudden I will feel differently about what he did.   It does mean praying for and wanting the best for that man, with God’s help.   So I’m here today to tell you that I have forgiven the man who murdered my brother.  As you can tell, this hasn’t been easy for me, and it is something I will continue to ask God to help me to do.”

As you can imagine, this talk was an  extremely emotional talk and made a huge impact on the offenders.   Later that evening, we had an “open mic” session where we ask the offenders to share what they are thinking and feeling up to that point in the weekend.   One of the offenders came forward during open mic and said (in summary):  “I have been in prison a long time, but I will be going home in February.  I got the news recently that my cousin – who I’m very close with – was murdered a few weeks ago.   Ever since I got this news, I have been plotting how, where and when I was going to kill the man who killed my cousin, how I was going to get my revenge.   But Joseph, after hearing your talk I have been praying like crazy and have I decided to forgive him.  I need you guys to pray for me and I need God’s help – but I know this is the right thing to do. “

So  … because of Joseph being part of Jubilee and giving this talk:

  1. Two men will live who would have otherwise been killed
  2. Joseph and the Jubilee offender will not go back to prison – and will avoid the possibility of the death penalty
    3.  The wives and children of these two men will have a Christian husband and father, helping to break the cycle and hopefully prevent their children from ending up in prison.

You can learn more at jubileeprisonministry.org

Jim Austin, Co-founder and CFO Jubilee Prison Ministry

If you want to experience the Holy Spirit moving in our world in the 21st Century; if you want to SEE GOD CHANGING PEOPLES LIVES, join us in Jubilee Prison Ministry.  

 

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