There is a young man in the Bible study group in jail who has been blessing my socks off lately. He came for a week or two without saying a word then he spoke. He shared how he seemed to always have a short fuse, so anger and violence has been a mainstay throughout his life, until now. He said, “The other day in the cell I was having a conversation with someone and another guy came up and just started talking and butting in, so I felt disrespected.” Here’s where it changed. He said, “Instead of reacting in anger I looked at this guy and just said, ‘I’m gonna pray for you’ and walked away.” These types of things are why I look forward to sharing the Word in jail.
This same young man has had an encouraging word each week ever since. The week after his victory over anger he told the group he had been called to ministry. He said, “My grandfather was a preacher and my uncle was a deacon.” He said, “when I was little I wanted to grow up and be a preacher but I went the wrong way.” His pastor came to visit him from Indiana and told him, “I’ve never visited anyone who was incarcerated before. My own son is in jail and I have never visited him.” It seems this pastor had seen God doing something in this young man way before he did. Isn’t that how it usually is though? Others seem to know God has a calling on our lives long before we do.
The most recent story this man told me was how God has reconciled him with his family. He told me, “My mom came to visit me and we had the best conversation we’ve had in probably 17 years.” This guy is only twenty seven mind you so his relationship with his mother has been strained since he was ten. He told her of his calling, and he said, “I saw a look on her face I haven’t seen since I was a boy.” He had been indicted that very morning but he said, “when she told me she was proud of me none of that mattered anymore.” This young man is a good sized fellow. He said, “I went to state four times in football and had weight lifting tournaments and my mom never came to any of them.” He said all this with a giant grin on his face and told me when he and his mother ended the visit she told him “I’m going right now to tell the preacher!” There are also signs that his brother is coming around because the brother told mom, “I think he means it!”
As our time together ended, I shared with him how God was in the business of reconciliation. The Bible tells us “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” It then goes on to say, “He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” I told him it looks like God is doing a miracle in your life. You didn’t even have to work at it you simply began trusting Christ to work all these things out. Another inmate, who was standing by, chimed in saying, “It’s Mathew 6:33, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. If you put God first all the other stuff will fall into place.” With that the door popped open and we walked down the hall parting ways as they went into their cell and I went down the hall to booking to leave.