Happy 2020! It’s the beginning of a fresh, new decade – what a blessing! Great is the Lord’s faithfulness. Thank you for your support of the jail ministry. I am tremendously blessed to be able to serve as a chaplain and proclaim God’s Word to those in need in the Geauga Co Jail.
The first week of January, I was feeling drained. There had been some stress in the jail and Bible studies hadn’t been very encouraging. Then, on Saturday the 4th I stepped into a local fast food restaurant to pick up some food for the family. Looking across the counter, I saw a man working in the kitchen whom I knew from the jail. We locked eyes in recognition and a big smile spread across his face. He came up to me in a few minutes and said, “Chap, guess what? I gave my life to Christ!” I was overjoyed and we eagerly made plans to get together for counsel. He was not somebody I expected that from, and the fact that his conversion happened outside the jail impressed me. God used this circumstance to get me out of some doldrums and to remind me that: It’s not by my efforts alone that these men and women will be reached. “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6).
This past Thursday, I used some Espanol in my Bible study for the first time. I merely welcomed newcomers and directed the Spanish speakers to various texts we were reading, but that alone felt really good. I’m still a long way from being conversational, but I’ll keep working at it. I often print off my notes and song lyrics in both English and Spanish and everybody seems to enjoy that. We sing both English and Spanish songs. On Thursday, I worked in one song with English and Russian. That was a lot of fun!
Earlier this month, I visited a local juvenile detention center with a good friend who regularly does that type of ministry. Meeting the boys was a great experience and I was able to witness how a different facility operates as well as how somebody else leads a Bible study. I walked away very encouraged.
During the Thursday Bible study, we discussed seeking God’s righteousness in a sinful world. We see evil increasing in the land. There is so much hate, so much vulgarity, so many ungodly philosophies, so many demonic agendas, and so little love. In many corners there is a blatant hostility towards God’s truth. Is this the worst the world has ever been? How can we stand as Christians? I am reminded of the example of Noah, who lived at a time when the whole world was evil and violent. There were even giants wrecking havoc. Yet, Noah was willing to stand alone for God. He was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). So, in God’s grace one man and his immediate family were saved in order to preserve humanity. Eight people out of millions! If Noah can walk by faith, why not us? The darkness in this world is growing by the day, yet we are called to put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:12). Indeed, the opportunities to serve God are boundless. It’s convicting that, what God would do through us is hindered by our lack of faith (Matt. 17:20).
This year, I resolved to encourage more inmates to work on the Good News Correspondence Bible Studies, which go through Scripture verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book with true/false, fill in the blank, multiple choice, and short essay type questions. Thus far in January, about 120 Bible studies have been completed and turned in (which is almost 1/3 of the total studies completed all of last year)! Three people have completed the Gospel of John. What a joy to see God working on people’s heart through the power of His Word.
Friends, I want to encourage you with some statistics from the jail:
480 total Bibles were distributed!
254 in English
178 in Spanish
21 in other languages (10 different foreign languages represented)
192 decisions for Christ (professions of faith & rededications)
793 counseling sessions
119 chaplain led Bible studies
688 volunteer led church services and Bibles studies
90 inmates in the RU (Reformers Unanimous) Program
34 completed the first RU book
Please continue to pray for God to work on hearts of both inmates and jail staff. Pray too for spiritual protection. God is working powerfully through your prayers and partnership in this ministry.