I went to the jail yesterday with another brother to be with one of the churches we helped establish there.
When we arrived, that other brother, John, felt the Lord’s prompting to ask if anyone was struggling with anything and wanted some one-on-one help. A young man raised his hand and I met with him alone while John remained with the larger group of about twenty inmates.
As we talked, that young man was able to openly confess and release to the Lord years of hurts and regrets that he had suffered. The pain he carried from the wrongs he experienced as a boy contributed to addictions and emotional enslavement, which had been destroying his life. As he began to expose and gave them to the Lord, Jesus met him in a very personal way.
Then, without prompting, he started talking about all the stupid sins he had committed in reaction to the wrongs he had suffered at the hands of others. He began crying and asked how he could be free from the guilt and weight of his own wrongs.
I find that’s often the case: When we forgive others for their wrongs, we often clearly see for the first time the significance of our own sins and then are brought to a place of genuine conviction.
As we continued to talk, he began to openly confess the weight his heart was carrying from his own wrongs and asked the Lord for forgiveness. He then turned those additional burdens over to Christ.
The freedom that then flooded his face was amazing. Having experienced grace leading to repentance, he then and there surrendered his life to Jesus.
An Authentic Gospel
It seems popular these days to promote a hollow gospel that caters to self.
But I have seen, time and again, there is no power in a gospel of grace without repentance, love without surrender, mercy without righteousness, redemption without obedience, life without death.
I also have seen time and again that if we minimize sin, we deny the opportunity for grace to bring freedom through confession, forgiveness and repentance.
I’m looking forward to this young man’s eventual release from jail and walking with him on the outside as he puts his life back together on God’s terms, not his.
Part of that process will involve him connecting with other brothers on the outside who are part of our fellowships, after also surrendering to Jesus in jail and now moving forward with their new lives in Him.
In the meantime, there’s an indigenous assembly of fellow inmates “being the church” in his jail dorm who I know will do a great job helping him become established in his new faith.
Evangelism, discipleship and fellowship in action!
It was a good day.
~ Jim Wright