God’s Word and witnesses are spreading in places many people in the US would never think to look.
World Challenge’s partners in Ohio work with inmates in large transfer institutions before they are moved to other prisons. The team offers these men and women sermons and lessons about who God is and how our lives change as a result of walking in the ways God wants for us.
“The group of prisoners to whom we minister is constantly changing,” Our partner there explained. “If sentencing is swift, it could be that we minister to that inmate only one time.”
While this can be challenging, it does mean that many inmates take their testimony and newfound passion for Christ with them into other prisons throughout the state, spreading like dandelion seeds on the wind.
Before being transferred, inmates often take extra World Challenge sermons and Assemblies of God Bible study courses back to their pods. This literature and encouragements are shared with many others whom the team would never have the chance to meet.
On rare occasion, though, the team will receive a letter from an inmate they’ve had a chance to reach. These letters are treasured witnesses to God’s goodness.
A Letter of Testimony and Witness
I love you, brother! You have been a great teacher, example and friend in my life for the past year or so. Every Thursday morning, I look forward to your visit. You inspire me to grow in my faith because of the way God moves in your life. Let me tell you about my journey to faith.
As a child, my mother and stepfather were Catholic, so I was put into PSR [Parish School of Religion, an afterschool program] at night and did all the things Catholics do. Because of that, I despised ‘religion’ early.
So for the next couple decades—Oh my, I’m old!—I did not have a relationship with God. As a result, I really had no joy in my life, only temporary happiness, pleasing the flesh with drugs, money, sex and other things. Before prison, I was a drug addict for nearly 20 years. When I got to prison, I continued this same lifestyle at Lake Erie Correctional.
While at Lake Erie, I decided to quit using and come back to Lorain [Lorain Correctional Institution] and become a mentor to help other inmates. After coming to Lorain, I attended one of your Bible studies. At this point in time, I would have considered myself an atheist.
You sang a few songs; you shared a proverb and some inspirational stories from one of the Chicken Soup books. I really enjoyed your message. I kept coming after the first time. I started attending church. I kept listening to people who were Christian. I loved hearing your testimony and getting to know you.
Eventually, I wanted to know God too! I started praying. I’m not going to lie—when I noticed the power of prayer, it spooked me. Being new in my faith, I still don’t know everything. Anytime I have questions, I know I can ask you and you will always answer. Since coming to God, my life has changed for the better. I am now really involved in the chapel. I’m part of our praise and worship team and I try to minister to the general population. I have also been volunteering to speak to the guys coming into the prison about recovery.
I am still new in my faith, but I’m starting to see God’s purpose for me being manifested in my life. Without men like you, I would never have found my way back to Jesus. Thanks for all you do. I know you don’t want me to say that, but you have a special place in my heart.
We can only imagine the party there will be in heaven and the incredible stories about God’s power that will be told when these beloved men and women arrive before God’s throne.
The team is devoted to reaching as many as they can with the gospel and good news of God’s sacrifice for them, to transform their hearts, spirits and minds.
Heaven is keeping careful records; and, one day, we will see the many who were led to Christ through these humble efforts to reach and disciple the lost.