Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pastors in Prison

Yesterday was a tremendous day for our Pastors. We spent the day from morning till night in Howard Young Prison and then Smyrna.

We go into the prisons along with the Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. This time there were 7 of us that went in. We go in teams back into the prison "pods". Pods are like 20 cells or so enclosed in a big common area with wooden picnic tables, a TV up on the wall, shower stalls enclosed only by a hinged 1/2 door, a common sink, and that's about it. The common area is about 35ft x 35ft or so.

We pass through the prison halls and come to each pod that is accessed by metal doors from the hallway. You bang on the door and are "buzzed" through to a very small hallway and then buzzed through by 2 officers per pod into the common area.

Some guys are willing to talk and some are not. The Muslim men are generally unwilling to talk. Yesterday, I found myself doing a lot of "pastoring" to men who had already received Christ. There seems to be little discipling to these men. There is little spiritual growth and these men quickly fall into the 2 Peter 1 scenario of those that are saved, but are barren and unfruitful and eventually become "blind" and "forget" they were purged from their sin. Eventually, this leads to them getting back into sin and returning to jail again.

I am reminded at how important discipleship is after salvation. I do not doubt that most of these men that I spoke to are indeed "born again". In several cases, I tried to talk them out of their hope in Christ and they would not be swayed. They were not confused in the least that their hope for salvation lay only in the substitutionary death of Christ.

In Smyrna, we are always thrilled with the electricity of the service. These men come with great joy, smiles, and heartfelt singing. Soul-felt choruses ring the air with truths of how much we "need the Lord".

We three Pastors sang "The Unclouded Day" and many of the men rose to their feet with claps of rejoicing. Brother Jeff Cassell (the guy from Sunday Night at LBC) from Rock of Ages preached a sermon about Achan "What's in Your Tent". He bellowed out the truths of Achan's Eyes, Heart, and Action that hid his sin. The message was primarily to the many believers that Chaplain Pennel and our Missionary Tim Heald have discipled for many years. When the invitation was given, weeping men filled the altar confessing sin and crying out for help from the Lord to amputate sin from their lives.

Oh, what a joy it would be if the people of Lighthouse would be serious about their sin in this manner. We may be tempted to look at these men as "big sinners" - I would ask you today who read this blog, "What is hidden in the tent of your life?". What is in your mind, your cell phone, your Internet history, your radio, your language, your reading? Oh that God would bring a stirring to us as He did last night.

I prayed with one dear man who was one of the first to come to the altar. He was weeping and I asked what what I could pray for. Very broken, he said, "just pray for freedom". He spoke not of his incarceration, but the incarceration of besetting sin of an honest saint of God.

Another man came up to me after the service. He was a nice young white man who was in earnest. He would be released soon and asked if he would be welcome at our church. I told him sincerely that we would do everything we could to help him spiritually when he was released. He then told me something that shocked me. He told me that he had been sent a letter from a very well known Independent Baptist Church in lower Delaware. Though he was repentant and broken, the letter stated that they didn't want him any longer in the church. They stated "they didn't want his influence there". I could certainly understand this if it was church discipline, but it was not. It was the response of a Christian without compassion, blind in their own self-righteousness without realization of the depths of their own depravity without God's Grace.

I plan to contact the Pastor to find the source of this letter. The Pastor was not there when letter was sent. We must never have this tone at LBC. I told the Rock of Ages men to send us every man they could who was released from Prison and thirsted after the Lord. It is our great privilege to serve these broken princes of the most high God.

Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

It was a great blessing to be in the prisons. We got to our homes after 11pm last night and each of us knew that we had spent a very long day exclusively in the service of our Noble Master. Good Stuff.

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