Unexpected surprises are not always good when they happen in jail!
But this case was different. I was invited to preach two consecutive Sunday services in a large Florida county jail, but I didn't expect the outcome that I received...
The jail service was filled with anticipation as the women filed in cuffed and counted. The majority of inmates were downcast and tired as they entered the service. Regardless of what I saw on their faces, during the talk you could feel the Holy Spirit's momentum building. By God's grace alone, these incarcerated women were uplifted and energized by the end of our time together. I wish you could have heard the sound... the sound of a room filled with inmates asking Jesus into their hearts and lives. These lovely women shared their excitement - along with the challenge to bring cellmates and friends to next week's service.
But it was what happened AFTER the last inmate left the room that threw me for a loop. Never in my prison and jail ministry has this happened...
A rush of excitement came over one of the officers that had been on guard during the service. He bounded forward saying; "I feel so inspired!" I have never heard a service in here that has moved me so much!" "I cannot wait to come back next week." Then in sudden disappointment he said; "Oh, that's right, I don't work next Sunday..." (I could not help but chuckle under my breath.) His excitement was contagious as he continued to share how the message had moved him to speak up.
Don't be fooled my friend and don't get discouraged in your ministry. For God is working overtime in the prisons and jails across this country! You never know who is listening and is transformed by the power of the gospel!
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
Expect the unexpected from our great God!