What Does Prison Ministry Look Like?

15 01 2018

A question I receive a lot is: what does prison ministry look like? I want to answer that as best I can. It may vary from situation to situation but I’ll share my policies and practices.

As for policy I keep it simple. I don’t want men to put me in any questionable positions. This means that while they may offer seemingly harmless gifts as thank you I simply refuse.

Don’t create an opportunity for blackmail. My policy is direct. I give only the Gospel and take only their gratitude.

My rules are simple. I give away only material that I bring in, no bathroom during chapel if there is no officer available for escort and no interruptions. If they are only there to get out of their building for a little while that’s fine with me as long as they don’t interrupt. I stress you respect me and I’ll respect you.

I give away Bibles to anyone who needs one and try to get right into the Word and preach. It’s preaching that saves sinners.

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

I typically preach anywhere from 45 to an hour and then I open it up for questions. Some chaplains recommend against this but I have found it very helpful. I don’t want to give the impression of a performance. I don’t want them to feel like they are just there for me to lecture or yell at.

Many of them have honest Biblical questions especially after an hour long sermon. If someone seeking truth has questions I want to address those as best I can.

I always give a chance to respond to the Gospel whether they are saved or lost. I urge them to apply the message to their own lives. If they need to be saved I urge them to call on the Lord and if they profess salvation I urge them to surrender themselves again and get things right.

Not Just for the Lost

23 02 2016

In our minds we often head out to share the Gospel with the lost. Our tracts, conversations and preaching are typically aimed in that direction. The problem is that we neglect to see things from God’s perspective. Sometimes while He is using His Word in the hearts of the lost He may also be using it to bless the church itself. I’m trying to learn from this experience not to be so one dimensional in my street preaching because a nearby believer may need the word as much as the lost.

We were out today ministering at the bus station in Downtown Bakersfield. It was our first time expanding to a morning outreach there and it was a blessed time. We gave away two Bible’s and about 25 tracts. There were only a few people around when each of the preachers started but crowds formed during the preaching and many listened to the Gospel.

One man who was in a wheelchair listened to my friend Gerry preach and spoke to Gerry after that. He professed to be a believer and appeared very edified by hearing the Word of God preached. He was also encouraged by seeing people out sharing their faith publicly. Long story short he took a stack of tracts from Gerry and the two of them went into the bus station to pass them out.

He came back during my sermon and not only listened but encouraged us after the fact. I guess the point is that we should go out to preach not just to sow the seed among the lost but to perhaps edify and encourage other believers on whom the Word falls. Say a prayer for Michael who seemed not only sincere in his profession of faith but eager himself to help in the work of the Gospel.

Sovereignty and Street Evangelism

22 02 2016

Some days are dull and seemingly ineffective in the work of street evangelism. This is a perception but not a truth. The truth is that no ministry ever, anywhere is ineffective. Sometimes you plant, sometimes you water, sometimes you see increase, and other times you are just plowing the soil but all of it is Gospel work. Two passages have demonstrated to me the truth of God’s sovereignty in the work of evangelism.

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)

The reason we feel evangelism is unproductive during those times when increase isn’t being given is because we can’t see the invisible work that God is doing in people. We can only see the results and I think we look too much for those and fail to realize that God is doing a work according to His own good pleasure unseen to our eyes. There are however times where the invisible work of God is made visible to our eyes.

These are times not only of encouragement to us personally but times that encourage our faith and help us trust a little bit more. Such a thing happened the week before we left for Super Bowl Outreach. Our attempts at sharing the Gospel seemed frustrating that week to say the least.

We were supposed to go out Thursday night but it seemed not to come together for any of us so we agreed to go Friday night. On Friday I was having a bad day and didn’t feel at all like going out but we did anyway. A good crowd formed while my friend Gerry was preaching and I noticed a lady (who I later found out was named Marci) walked up from inside the bus terminal and began watching seriously.

I noticed she began to cry and then I noticed she walked over to my wife Amy who was nearby passing out tracts. They spoke for probably a good 30 minutes. Gerry finished and I began preaching and they were still talking. About 15 minutes into my sermon Marci walked back over and began listening again, crying off and on.

After the preaching was done she walked up and introduced herself. She was a professing believer but admitted she had not been living her claim. She was in a troubled marriage with an unbeliever and was going through a difficult time. We answered several questions for her before praying for her but it was what she said after the prayer that really convicted my heart about how I view ministry.

She told u how glad she was that we were here on this particular night because of problems at home which drove her out of the house and to the bus station. I recalled how we were supposed to be out the night before but plans had fallen apart. She told us as well that she usually went to the other bus station on the Southwest side of town not the Downtown station. She wasn’t sure why she had gotten off when she did until he heard our preaching.

To me it was lesson learned. When things don’t come together as planned it may not be Satan working against you but God working for someone else in particular. In this case  us coming a day later and her getting off at the wrong station turned out to be the Lord’s doing and it truly was marvelous in our eyes.

Salvation 101

23 04 2015

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:1-18)

The text above is one of the best known in the Bible and makes a great and simple outline for sharing the Gospel. This can be used for a short open air sermon on the Gospel or in a one on one conversation. If you feel you can’t share the Gospel I challenge you to find simple outlines like this one to use in your witnessing encounter. Often we take a passage and force our points into it. This is not God’s intentions for using His Word. Draw your points from the text don’t force them into it.

1. The need of Mankind (Verse 3)

A. Spiritual life (born anew)

B. Spiritual eyes (cannot see the kingdom)

2. The Offer to Mankind (Verse 16)

A. The cross pre-figured in verse 14

3. The Call to Mankind (Verse 18)

A. Believe or be condemned (We are condemned already)

This is just an example of how to draw points from the text of Scripture. This is also a good way to share the Gospel in a simple manner. Hopefully it’s a blessing for you.

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