God blessed me by calling me to an awesome church in July of 2010. If you know me, you know I love to preach. I love to preach in church, but I love to preach inside our local detention center as well. I had prayed that when God called me to a church he would call me to one that would support my work in jail ministry. My church supported me from the beginning by giving up one night each month for me to preach in jail. Our schedule for January (no evening services) has offered me even more opportunity. I truly believe it is our call and duty not just as pastors and preachers but as any born-again follower of Christ to frequently share the Gospel. It may be one-on-one; it may be in some type of group setting. I do not believe God intended anybody to be bench-warmers on his team.
One of my brothers in jail ministry is a guy named Mark. Mark’s primary role is what we call “bean-hole” ministry. Our detention center has 8 cell blocks: 6 for men and 2 for women. Each cell block has a day room then individual cells. Each cell has a small flap for putting food trays through, as does the main door from the day room into the halls of the facility. This little flap about waist height is the “bean-hole” in jail vernacular.
Each week Mark makes his rounds to the bean-holes of the male cellblocks. He hands out Bibles, Christian literature, listens to inmate concerns and prays with inmates. Most importantly, through that small flap in a large metal door, he shares the Gospel. Mark feels a real call on his life to witness for Jesus in that way. He’s a humble guy, and he never brags on himself, but he is an inspiration to me. He is a fired up soul-winning witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. He trained me on bean-hole procedure and from time to time I get to fill in for him or work side by side with him. He is one of God’s tools in Garland County Jail Ministry.
Just this past Wednesday, Mark and I started co-teaching a 4 week study on witnessing at my church. Mark designed the curriculum which he calls S.O.W. (Society of Witnesses) for Jesus. We are both praying he will have the opportunity to present it to several other churches and ministries. One of the most important words Mark spoke about in the first session was, “Go.” It’s the first word in the Great Commission and something Jesus calls all of his disciples to go.
Now I’m not telling you that you have to go around the world to some third-world country where there is not air-conditioning, indoor plumbing or sophisticated technology. I’m not even saying you have to go to jail or prison. I am saying that if you are a true follower of Jesus then he has a mission for you to GO somewhere. Maybe it’s just to someone in your family, or your workplace, or that guy in front of you at Wal-Mart. Maybe it is to somewhere in Northern Africa where your life will be in danger for merely uttering the name, “Jesus.” I can’t tell you where to go, that’s between you and Jesus. I can tell you this: you need to go wherever he leads.
I had the privilege to go into one of the two large felony cellblocks of our local detention center just last Sunday. All 32 men in it opted to go to church, and they were allowed out of lockdown into the dayroom to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. As the deputies made their rounds unlocking cells and letting inmates out one of the deputies pulled me aside (a great young man I know personally) and said, “Randy, there are going to be a lot of guys out in here with you. Are you okay with that?” I just smiled and said, “Sure.”
It’s a cellblock where they have had problems before. I was not okay because I had a shank tucked away in my sock and was ready to take on the biggest, baddest dude in the block. No, I was okay because I had the Holy Spirit on my side, and he has never allowed one of our volunteers to be injured.
We started as usual with a series of songs, and the men’s voices echoed strangely in the large cavern of concrete. It was stripped down, heartfelt and real. I preached from Colossians chapter 3 on putting off the old and putting on the new. The men listened, some even asked questions, or offered some positive comments. At the end, when I gave an invitation, the Holy Spirit led two men to come before Jesus and surrender their lives to him – not because I am a good preacher…not because I know the Bible well…not because of pretty music.
It was because Jesus had chosen these two men, and he had chosen me and told me to, “Go.” One word. One powerful command. Powerful and eternal results. Will you go to?