Everywhere around the world, at any given moment, God is there, and He is moving. Moving to change hearts, to draw men to Himself, to convict us of sin, to thwart the schemes of Satan, and to expand His Kingdom. I love hearing stories of God moving in the most unexpected places, and recently those stories have been coming from my brother, Matt.
Jail is often one of the last places we expect to hear stories of God moving – it seems like such a isolating, hostile, cold place for life change to happen (or maybe I’ve just watched The Shawshank Redemption too many times).
It started small. One of Matt’s fellow inmates asked him if he could borrow Matt’s Bible to read. And then he asked again. And again. So, Matt asked my parents if they would be willing to send his friend his own Bible, and a copy of Jesus Calling (a delightful daily devotional by Sarah Young). When his package arrived in the mail he was so excited, and the other guys in the pod (that’s what they call the area where the guys live) were asking him what he got. As he was showing it to them, a few of them hesitantly asked if they might be able to get a set too.
Word began to spread, and before you could say “Jesus loves you”, all 9 guys in the pod had requested their own bible and/or Jesus Calling. They began reading their Bibles and the devotionals, and then started talking about what they were reading over their meals. They began discussing scripture with their loved ones when they called them. And they were all amazed that someone who didn’t even know them would be willing to buy them their very own Bible. They couldn’t believe it.
Then, their pod was transferred back to the main building and combined with a larger pod that had almost 90 men. Some of the first group were still waiting on their Bibles to arrive, and when they did it naturally aroused the curiosity of the new guys. And all of a sudden 39 more men had asked for their own copy of the Bible and the devotional.
48 men, in jail for a variety of reasons, are hungry for something more than their life has given them so far. Maybe, just maybe, a jail is the very place we should expect God to be moving. In a culture that screams for our right to independence and self-sufficiency, jail bring sharply to light the reality of total dependence and in-sufficiency of self to make life work. How gracious of God to put these men in a place where they can more clearly see their need for Him.
John, my brother’s cellmate, told Matt that he hadn’t been to church since he was 11 years old, and that this is the first time in his life the Bible has made any sense to him. In the past couple weeks he read the entire new testament and pieces of the old, and his fiancee’ is now reading her own copy of the Bible and Jesus Calling along with him.
Another guy in the pod who used to be involved in a militant sect of another religion started reading the Bible, and then began discussing it with his girlfriend, and has enjoyed having theological discussions over meals.
And the stories just keep coming in.
There is no place where God is not, and it is such a joy to be able to enter into His work, wherever it is.
As I have shared this story with a few friends, they have expressed a desire to get involved. If you are interested, you can join in on what I am calling Adopt-an-Inmate! There are two ways to be a part of what God is doing in a jail in Virginia. You can sponsor an inmate by purchasing a Bible and devotional, or you can send a note of encouragement to one of the guys who has already received their set! Just shoot me an email if you want to get involved!
One thought on “There is no place where God is not”
this is so encouraging to hear!
sometimes God allows us to see him work out romans 8:28 in our lives (and in other situations we have to wait til heaven to see how he uses it all for good). it is a cool blessing to hear how God is using your brother’s time in jail for good! 🙂