While in "protective custody, segregation or lockdown," inmates are starving for God's love and mercy.
Freedom in jail! Again, I witnessed God speaking powerfully throughout the jail church service this past week. The hardened inmates who seemingly came in only wanting to sit in the back and visit, surprisingly, found themselves weeping for the Lord and surrendering their hearts to Christ. I could see the relief in their eyes and a new freedom in their Spirits as they were leaving. Awesome!
Behind-the-scenes jail tour: I requested a tour of the jail to further expand my understanding in corrections. Most of the time I speak in prisons, so I wanted to understand the process, the similarities and the differences.
Towards the end of the tour, we were granted permission to speak with the inmates in the dark recesses of (P.C.) Protective Custody unit. This is an area where male and female inmates are either a danger to others, or a danger to themselves. Imagine a small, one bed kennel-like closet with a toilet and full Plexiglas wall and door for full viewing. Some cells which were intended for one had two to three inmates in each confinement. These closet cells lined the walls circling the officers posted in the center of the room. We were warned that we may see crude and inappropriate behavior and we could exit immediately if we wanted to leave. I held my breath and said a quick prayer as we entered.
It was immediate! As soon as I walked into the unit, there was a supernatural magnetic pull towards the isolated inmates housed in these "glass closets." I cannot explain it... other than the Holy Spirit's pull to share the truth of the Gospel to the lost, unsaved, hurting people who were waiting hopelessly in a cell 24/7.
My heart just ached for them to the point where I was going to burst if I didn't do something. I boldly asked permission from the officers if I could approach the glass wall of the women's cells to ask if they would like prayer. Little did I know God had greater plans in store...
As I was praying with them, other inmates began requesting for us to come over and pray with them as well. It soon became a chain reaction of the Holy Spirit's call.
My fellow team member later reflected; "You could literally feel the pull of God's Spirit towards these inmates wanting to receive prayer." In this limited time frame, several inmates surrendered their lives over to Christ and prayed the prayer of salvation. Wow, the power of God's love is miraculous!
I wish you could have been there as we knelt in prayer on holy ground, placing our hands together on each side of the glass wall that separated us... This is an image and power I will never forget as I watched them cross over from death to eternal life.
OUR GOD IS IN THE BUSINESS OF RESTORING THE LOST IN PRISON AND JAIL!
As I was leaving the protective custody area I was physically exhausted from the morning service, the tour and the heart wrenching darkness of the jail. I looked back over my shoulder to wave goodbye and I could see a few men across the unit... holding up their hands inside their glass confinements... still wanting to be noticed and receive prayer. My heart just broke...
It reminded me of Mark 6:34, when Jesus and his disciples were exhausted and looking for rest as they climbed out of the boat. When Jesus saw the large crowd his heart broke for the lost.
"...Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things."
That is exactly what I saw in jail that morning... countless sheep hopelessly lost without a shepherd...
WILL YOU PRAY RIGHT NOW FOR THE LOST, LONELY AND UNSAVED IN OUR JAILS AND PRISONS?
My heartfelt thanks to the officers who took the time to give us a tour and answer my unending questions. I pray this information will continue to deepen our understanding and ministry for the incarcerated. May God bless you and your families for your selfless service.