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  • PhilipZ

Day 70

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 -

One of the things “C” keeps telling me is that one reason God put me in prison is because He wanted me to realize prisoners aren’t really such bad people. Overall, I’d have to agree. In God’s eyes, we are all sinner, and God loves each one of us enough that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of every man in this prison. He took their places on that cross. He bore the punishment for the sin of each one – guard and inmate alike, no matter what they have done.

Many here, in fact, grew up in the church. Many just made one mistake – did one foolish thing – that caused them to end up here. Some claim innocence, like me, of the crime for which I was convicted, and I believe some truly are innocent. Some claim they were framed, with evidence planted by the police. But the fact of the matter is every person, both in prison and without – in fact, even every guard – must accept Christ’s shed blood as redemption for their sin, repent of that sin, and make Him Lord of their life, or face an eternity in hell – a place of torment and complete darkness. For everyone has sinned and come short of what God expected of us (Rom. 3:23).

At the same time there have been numerous confirmations that we in the West need to return to the Scriptural model of the way the church was in Acts – based on proximity, the meeting in homes, and caring for one another – actually sharing resources! A number of books I have read have said this, most predominantly Francis Chan’s Letters to the Church. I have known this for a long time, and my former co-worker at Infomat in California, the late Jim Rutz, also wrote a similar book. It was the model for the church that launched its original phenomenal growth.

Thirdly, I’ve also had confirmed to me since being here of the huge number of convicts who are released and end up back in prison – especially drug offenders. While non-Christian programs have a success rate of only less than ten percent in helping people get free of drug addiction, for those who find release through a relationship with Christ, the success rate hovers somewhere over 90%! Obviously, Christ is the answer! That is why it pains me to see men leaving here who’ve been addicted to drugs but who refuse to accept Christ as Lord of their lives. The chances are they’ll end right back here!

And lastly, the lack of ministries – particularly in churches – working to re-integrate and stand beside felons coming out of prison, though not unheard of, is alarming!

Perhaps this is the missing link that is truly needed in this society. I’ve been toying with the idea of a combination of all the above ideas – small groups, or even a movement of house churches comprised primarily of ex-convicts and recovering drug addicts. There is a very real possibility this could be done in conjunction with the bureau of prisons in an attempt to decrease the recidivism rate. If someone is already doing this, I would like to be involved. One way I can definitely help is to assist in raising up donors to support such an effort, as that what I know how to do. But much more important is for individuals and maybe for churches to catch the vision and just keep doing it! I believe the number of men and women returning to prison would drop dramatically if there is a concerted effort to help them find Jesus. This is just an idea that’s been going through my mind that could have a huge impact on our nation.

So I ran this idea by “C,” and he feels we may be on to something. I told him again, he would make a “great pastor,” and one to train disciples planting other such fellowships to win ex-convicts and drug addicts to Christ. They could become one of the greatest missionary forces this country has ever seen!

“C” told me this evening he has finally come to the place where he’s recognizing he cannot depend on his natural family, but that God has provided him with a new family – that of his fellow believers in Christ. He is very sad and heartbroken, however, for his natural family, but realizes he must put his trust fully in the Lord Jesus Christ for their souls and pray!

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