A Father’s Love

The following is the testimony of an incarcerated man inside the facility that I serve at.

My grandfather killed himself when my father was 12 years old. Grandpa was a bad alcoholic and had been raging around the house, threatening my Grandma and my dad. My dad talked him down, do Grandpa took my dad into the bedroom and shot himself in front of him. My dad never really recovered. Years of jail and prison, abuse drug abuse and alcoholism, and severe depression.  I don’t thing I ever saw my dad when he was not high. When my dad was not in jail, he was often absent, sometimes disappearing for months or even years at a time. No-one knew where he was or what he was doing. I remember driving around town with my Grandma, maybe going to the Wal-Mart or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and just staring out the car window, desperately looking for my dad. Sometimes I thought I saw his car and I would beg my Grandma to stop and see. She never did. Years of abuse and stealing had numbed her. She loved my dad and never turned him away when he came back, but she couldn’t bring herself to look for him.

When I was sixteen, I got hooked on drugs and soon had to start selling to maintain my habit. Drug-dealing is not a safe profession, and so soon after my beginning, I got robbed and fell into debt with my suppliers. A few months later, and I would be arrested for the murder of a drug dealer. My dad came to see me in the juvenile detention center. He promised me he would stick with me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a father. He had been through this; he could guide me, protect me.  I never saw him again.  He killed himself a few days after Christmas.

It is hard to grow up without a father, but even more-so when where you are growing up is prison. When I first got here, I felt so alone. So abandoned. My mother and grandmothers were still with me, but there was an emptiness, a hole, where my father should have been. I had no man to teach me to be a man. About a year after coming to prison, I signed up for a Christian religious retreat. They were feeding nice food, stuff you couldn’t get in prison, so I thought it would make a nice weekend. It changed my life.

“I am not alone.” “I am forgiven.” “The Father loves me.” I had never heard these things before. It touched me so deeply to know that there was a Father, a heavenly Father, who wanted me. Someone who would never turn their back on me, or leave me. That weekend I wrote my mother. “Mom, I love you so much! You have always stood by me. You never left me or abandoned me. You are the best mother in the world. And I want you to know…now I have a Father, too!”

That weekend changed my life. My Father changed my life. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Some of the things in my life have been so bad, have seemed so terrible, but my Father in heaven has always been looking out for me, making sure it all turned out for my good. He had a plan for me all along. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Thank you, Father.

Pray For All The Faith Based Honor Dorms

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Noticing our inability to accomplish anything good outside of God is key to surrendering our lives and hearts to Him. Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.

With that in mind I would like to ask to for all the residents in the Faith Based Honor Dorm this month. Pray that their hearts would be opened to the Gospel and their lives would be surrendered to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pray that they would seek to live peacefully among each other and be respectful to those in leadership positions. Pray for the men that are in leadership inside the dorm to ensure that the program runs smoothly. Pray for the chaplains that lead the program and that their eyes would remain on the goal of seeing lives changed for eternity. Pray ultimately for Gods will to be done, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Pray For The Church Behind Bars

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Let’s pray this week for the Church that is incarcerated to grow in godly attributes. That they would seek out and abides the true vine, Jesus. Pray that they would respect the authority of the prison staff and be able to control their temper. Pray that their lives would exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearing with one another, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Pray that they would experience genuine remorse for the harm they have caused their victims, and that they would seek to make amends as appropriate and possible.

Prayer Request For ReNew Hope 2017

On Sunday January 21 in Montgomery Alabama there will be gathered 300 plus volunteers from across the United States for one purpose, to spread the Gospel message to thousands of men and women in Alabama’s prison system. This event “ReNew Hope” is held each January and attracts hundreds of Christian volunteers, evangelists, and musicians from all different walks of life.

Pray for unity among these volunteers and that the hearts of these men and women would be in tune to the Holy Spirit and that gospel threads would be woven through out all of their conversations.

Pray for the safety 0f all the volunteers as they enter the cell blocks to interact with those who are incarcerated.  Pray for peace among the teams and wisdom as they share the Gospel and sow seeds into the hearts of men.

Pray that God would prepare the hearts of the men and women who are incarcerated. Pray that those incarcerated would be open to the Gospel that is shared through the volunteer teams, musicians and evangelists.

Pray for the evening services, for uneventful entry into the facilities for the musicians and evangelists. Pray for God’s word to be spoken and His Truth to change hearts.

Pray for myself and the other Chaplains across the State as they continue to follow up with all the new believers and followers of Christ. Pray for openness among those they reach out to on a daily basis.

An Inside Testimony From Family Nights

family-sunsetNovember was a busy month inside the prison that I serve at, as we hosted Thanksgiving family nights for our Faith/Character Based Honor Dorm. For many this proved to be the most special time of the year as their families traveled from near and far to have a Thanksgiving meal with them. For many this was the first time in years to eat a meal with their families! The responses that I received since these nights have been filled with gratitude. Below is a note that I received from one of the men that participated in the family nights.

I have been incarcerated for over 26 years and have had very few opportunities to spend the holidays with my mom.  She lives very far away and comes to visit when she can, but plane tickets can get pretty expensive during the holiday season, so most of the time we don’t visit during the holidays.  I haven’t sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with my mom since I was 16 years old…until last week. I don’t know exactly how it happened, (I believe the Lord made a way), but somehow my mom was able to fly in to Alabama last week for our Family Night. We sat together on the Visiting Yard, with two of my closest friends in the prison with us, and had a wonderful meal…turkey and dressing, potato salad and cranberry sauce, fresh tomatoes and squash casserole, green beans, macaroni and cheese, fresh rolls, brownie delight…and did I mention the ham, wow! I ate way too much the first time around and still went back for seconds. Everyone was complementing on how good the food was, everyone was smiling and laughing, there was so much love out there. It was such a wonderful time. A lot of the volunteers were there, too, and it seems like everyone stopped by my table to say hi. My mom was glowing, she was so excited to meet everyone. It is times like these that form the memories that are so special. I do not think I will ever forget that night. I thank God for everyone who helped make it happen. I am so grateful for that opportunity.

J.C.

There are many more testimonies much like this one and I am excited to see how God has worked in the hearts of these men and their families during this time. Families are under attack in our world and I am humbled to be part of an effort to help restore the family institution!

6/8/16 Prayer Request

There are over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world that are participating in Ramadan starting this week. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic Calendar. This year it began the evening of June 5th and will last until July 5th. It is the holy month in which Muslims believe Mohammed received the revelation of the Quran. Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting by fasting from dawn until sunset and will work harder than any other time of the year to please their Maker and earn redemption for their trespasses.

Join me as I pray for the 49 Muslims actively participating in Ramadan at the prison facility I minister at. Pray that in this time of heightened spiritual awareness, for the Spirit of God to move among Muslims in a powerful way, overcoming the spirit of darkness that blinds them to the truth of the Gospel.

Pray that during this season of Ramadan, as Muslims seek the truth, pray for the one and only God to reveal Himself to them.

Pray that these Muslim men would see their sin and their need for a Savior.