I want to write down what we experienced at the prison yesterday while it's fresh on my mind to share every detail. It's one of the most amazing God experiences I've ever had!
This is the first time Eric or Adrian (his partner down here) have ever gotten access to preach in the prison. We really weren't sure what we were going to do on Thursday because our plans had changed so many times. We prayed as a team that God would show us what He wanted us to do and He opened the door for us to go to the prison... Just the men in our group.
We walked in with a sense of trepidation not knowing what to expect. The cells were sort of in a "U" shape. Picture the guest house at New Day with a courtyard in the middle... Except these were 10x10 cells with about 15 to 20 men in each cell. They even had a cell with adolescents... One that barely looked 10 yrs old. The cells had multi levels of bunk beds.
We all filed into the walkway in front of one row of cells and stood in front of them, just a few feet away from the bars. The had arms and legs hanging through the bars everywhere because of the multi level bunks. They all stared at us with intensity, like Americans in China so you can relate.
Eric began to share his testimony with them which lasted 10-15 minutes. He told them what a sinful life he was leading prior to being saved and how God saved him. He talked about a Christian girl at a grocery store that had given him her phone number to call whenever he wanted to know about being saved. He called her when he was at the end of his rope and she led him to Christ!
He told the prisoners how they could receive this same forgiveness no matter what they had done. They could receive this same free gift from God and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Many of these men were weeping and broken.
Then we moved to the second and third sections of the the U shaped jail and Cliff and another Pastor shared their personal testimonies from the courtyard (we were all in there). This was a little unnerving because they had let about four prisoners in the courtyard also that were hand cuffed in pairs. At the end of the last testimony, Pastor Dale asked that the men raise their hands if they wanted to receive Christ as their savior. Most of the men raised their hands. He then lead them in a group prayer to ask God for forgiveness and to admit they were sinners and wanted Him to rule their lives. Hearing them pray this as a group was powerful!
We gave all of them Gospel tracks, about 200 men were in there. Then we fed them box lunches that we had all pitched in to buy. They don't get fed very well in prison. As we were leaving everyone in the prison stood and gave us a standing ovation. We shook hands with all of them and shared the love of God through our smiles and words. Many asked us to pray for them. One in particular named Martin asked for specific prayer for his cell block. Adrian plans to go back weekly to do a Bible study with them.
It was such a God moment I will never forget. It was hard for me to hold back tears but Eric says that is not looked upon highly when men cry in this culture. It's just hard to keep the juice in when the Holy Spirit squeezes your heart!
I wish I had a picture of this to share but we could not take cameras in.