Whenever I go to the jail to teach a large group the Chaplain points me in one of two directions. Most of the time there are other ministers conducting services there at the same time; so he tells us where he wants us to go. For the past 3 or 4 months I have been in the vending room but tonight he sent me around back.
There were about 30 guys there tonight which is about average I guess, and they all seemed to be attentive to what I was saying. Sometimes they are a little distracted but tonight everyone appeared focused.
I passed out the sign up sheet and just waited as the guard rounded up several more men from other cells. After they came in and sat down; the door shut, and I introduced myself. After we prayed I told them to look in the Gospel of John chapter 14 and told them we would be looking in 14, 15 and 16 tonight.
I started by sharing a quick version of my testimony. I told them about how I never really doubted that there was a God, but I just didn’t see how that meant anything to me down here. I mean God’s way up there somewhere and apparently it’s up to me to make this life thing work. I simply had no concept of God actually being present in the here and now. Somehow the message I had received was one day I will have to deal with God but for now I’m on my own.
Before I started to read scripture I just sort of shared how the disciples seemed to always be confused about Jesus. He would say things like “My flesh is real meat and my blood is real drink.” He told them “I’m going away but don’t worry, I’ll be back, but the world won’t see me but you will see me because I go to the Father.” The disciples seemed to always be confused and have to ask each other “What is he saying?” Then they would turn to Jesus and ask “Please explain this to me.” From time to time Jesus would respond “How long must I be with you?” Jesus would talk Spirit and the disciples couldn’t understand because they didn’t yet have the Spirit.
Not understanding God, Jesus, and the Bible etc. is exactly where I was for a long time so I could relate to the disciples in their confusion. I asked the guys if they knew where I was coming from. Several of them shook their heads and agreed; as I read to them several verses in John 14 about Jesus’ promise of a helper. He said the Spirit of God would not only be with the disciples, but he would be in them.
Although the disciples didn’t want Jesus to leave he reassured them it would be better for them if he went away. Jesus was telling them they would indeed be better because the helper he would send wouldn’t just be beside them but he would indwell them. They would never ever be left alone afterwards. This is the part I didn’t get in my childhood. I didn’t know about the Helper and that’s why I thought it was all up to me to make my life work. I thank God now I do know the Helper.
As we finished up and we were walking out into the hall a man came up to me and said, “The last time you were here you taught about the difference between the soul and spirit. I just wanted to let you know you set me free that night. Since then I’ve been reading the Bible and I understand it now. I just wanted to thank you.” I told him thanks so much for telling me that! These are the things that encourage me to keep going to the jail. There are some of these guys that are truly seeking answers. I just keep telling them to let God be God and he wants to be Lord in their lives. I finished with Jesus telling them he was the vine and they were the branches. I stuck out my arms like branches and acted as if I was straining. I said, “Have you ever seen branches on a tree straining to produce apples?” Of course not so I told them their job was to abide in the vine and let Christ in them produce the fruit through them.
Written by Louie