Thank you for your dedicated prayer support and partnership in the jail ministry. Thus far, February has been a very encouraging month of ministry in the jail. Attendance has been back up across the board in all church services and Bible studies. The men’s RU (Reformers Unanimous) group is also at maximum capacity. I praise God for answering prayer and breaking down whatever barriers that were keeping people from coming in December. The volunteer meeting on February 2nd was also very encouraging. Thank you to all who came and participated in the meeting and shared testimonies. Your heart for the incarcerated is inspiring.
Highlights & Moments in the Jail
Recently, I was counseling a young man one-on-one. We discussed Scripture and talked about applications. Looking reflective, he related an experience that occurred in his cell block right after he had returned from Bible study. One of the older grizzled inmates sat hunched over a metal table doing something sly with his commissary items. He called the young man over to where he was and said, “Hey kid, let me teach you how to jail.” The young man taken aback responded, “I don’t want to learn how to jail. I want to learn how to freedom!” I will never forget that line. Jesus wants us to learn to “do freedom” as we walk in His way (John 8:31-32). True freedom is only found in Christ and only through Christ can a person be freed from the bondage to sin, addiction and hopelessness. This freedom is exactly what I desperately want for these men and women. The fact that this young man made this spiritual connection was amazing.
Not just inmates are spiritually lost. I was in a conversation with another inmate and the subject of the correction officers came up. The inmate told me. “Most of them are just as lost as we are.” I agreed with him and encouraged him to be in prayer for all those in authority just as it is written in 1 Tim. 2:1-4. There is a lot of spiritual darkness in the lives of many of officers. Some of them are downright miserable, and it shows. When there is swearing and negativity, it can make the jail a tough environment to work in, but I thank God for the opportunity to shine a light and share the gospel when I can. In fact, I appreciate the contrast between light and dark that the jail brings into focus. Sometimes, it takes a breaking point to wake somebody up. That is so true of the inmates, and perhaps it will be true for some of the staff. In our society many people are proceeding down the path of comfortability and complacency, which two of Satan’s greatest tools. Selfishness, materialism, and a worldly-wise acceptance of plurality and relativistic morality leaves no room for worship. If our Enemy doesn’t have to work hard, He certainly won’t. As long as people aren’t serving Jesus Christ, He’s happy.
Some inmates argue that when they get out and get a good job, that they will be “successful.” I tell them that nothing could be farther from the truth if their lives are not fully submitted to Jesus. As we have seen from recent news stories, such as the case of Patriots owner Robert Craft, sin is no respecter of persons… and neither is sin’s wages (Rom. 6:23a). In our modern age, a message of repentance has fallen on hard times. However, I truly believe that revival is impossible without a call to repentance (2 Chron. 7:13-14). The inmates need to see that whether they are in the jail or out on the street, their sinful state will continue to separate them from God, till they repent and turn to Christ (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38).
The last few weeks, I have been reading a biography about Billy Graham. I have been motivated by his boldness as an evangelist and also by his deep compassion for the lost. Valentines Day fell on a Thursday, which is when I do Bible study with the men. I talked about how the spirit of Valentine’s Day is really about sacrificial love and God sent us the greatest Valentine of all when He sent us His Son (John 3:16). How does Billy tie in? Well, I’m convinced that I need to pray for more opportunities to share the gospel, to be creative in how I present the gospel, and be prepared to be an evangelist even when it’s uncomfortable. Today, I started a conversation with a guy who has been anti God in the past. I really felt the Spirit leading the conversation this time and this man genuinely listened to what I had to say.
On the home front, my family is finally experiencing better health after bouts with several lingering viruses. Thank you for your prayers.
1. Pray that men and women in the jail would surrender their lives to Christ. Also, please pray for opportunities to share Christ with the corrections officers.
2. Please pray for the continued success of the RU program. Pray that God would have victory in the lives of those who struggle with addictions and that God would protect them from temptation and against spiritual attack.
3. Please pray for God’s spiritual protection over those who serve in the jail. Also, please pray for the spiritual battle that surrounds the inmates and officers. We know that the battle raging in hearts and minds is spiritual. Please pray that God’s Truth would prevail.
Blessings in our Savior,
Chaplain Ethan Maynard