Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I had blood drawn by a nurse today and in conversation she asked me what I did in my retirement; I told her about speaking at the correction center and she began making conclusions which many people do, that people are just worse today and they get into a lot of trouble. I recoil from that attitude and explained to her that there are very few who are raised in an intact, loving, nurturing home with both parents that just begin making bad choices and end up incarcerated. I told her a story about a woman who I met here that walked into the front room to find her father laying in the middle of the room with a knife in his chest having tried to commit suicide; she ran to his side where he said he was sorry for not being who he should have been and died while she desperately tried to stop the bleeding. She was five years old. Her father's brother offered her and her mother a place to stay but in a few years he began molesting her until she was 15 and finally ran away. She spent the next 15 years taking heroin to stop the pain and alcohol to make her laugh. She never spent a sober day until she was arrested and got help at the jail where I was privileged to met her.
I explained to the nurse that almost without exception, everyone I meet has a story that contains much heartache. Many have a parent or both who use drugs, some have parents in jail or prison, nearly all experienced some degree of neglect and abuse as children, hiding from violent fathers or mothers, and when I am privileged to have someone share their private stories, they make my heart bleed.
She asked me if it depressed me. A fire rose up in me and I said, "no, it puts a fire in me to try, in the strongest terms I can find, to spark hope, encourage, console, build faith, rebuke, share solutions, correct, inspire to nobility, strengthen resolve, begin new in Christ, continue to persevere in the battle.
I suppose I was ranting a little but we come here because it beats hard in our breast how much Jesus loves you and we want to remind you, guide you, help your future hold wholeness, restoration, addiction free, crime free, depression free living in faith and righteousness!
I come because I heard an old story of Paul, who when breathing threats and violence against Christ and His church, was changed in an instant!
I come because I read the stories of countless conversions over the last two thousand years, I have witnessed with my own eyes conversions and last but not least, I experienced it myself.
I come because I have seen all manner of healing, restoration and success in countless number of people who have suffered horrific circumstances. I have seen countless men who the world would say, "have no hope and no chance," men who have been shot and shot at, addicted to drugs for years, released by Christ and walk in sobriety: some rise up from an alter never to return to drugs; others battle demons for years and with the help of God, friends, family, counselors and perseverance, find freedom. I have seen brutish men, child abusers, wife beaters, brawlers and criminals brought to faith and live out the rest of their lives in love and gentleness; I've seen jail cells turned into sanctuaries, prison bars of the mind and heart swing open wide and souls that have found freedom in Christ while still in the bondage of man.
Some may say, "but how many really listen?" I say, if we talk to fifty men and women a week and only one is changed, that's 52 a year! But that's not all; there are fifty-two mothers rejoicing and fifty-two fathers as well as grandparents and loved ones who have been praying, and their children’s lives changed as well. That one person per week may actually turn into two or three hundred lives that will be touched!
"Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees." Is. 35:3

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