We take those of our congregants who are delivered drug addicts, ex-convicts and reformed gangsters; and together we go into the prisons, and stretch out the hand of mercy to those drowning in sin – A hand that we ourselves took hold of to rescue us.
It is a great opportunity; and a door which the Lord has opened for us, so that we may shine light into a place of darkness. Those in prison are suffering for their sins; and have time to reflect upon the direction of their lives.
We show the prisoners that they aren’t only transgressors of the laws of South Africa, but that they are transgressors of God’s law; and His government is consequently against them because of that.
They are, like all lost people, sentenced to an eternal death in hell and awaiting the sentence thereof (John 3:36). But in this condemned state, they are offered a pardon; they are graciously offered – not only a pardon for their sins – but an offer for heaven and eternal life – if they will but turn from their sins and take up their cross and follow Jesus Christ (Mat. 16:24-26).
What kindness and love does is in Christ Jesus to offer those who deserve such wrath pardon and eternal life.
We make this clearly known to them, that the kingdom of heaven is offered to them (Mat. 10:7).
We take our services in the jails very seriously – knowing that many of those incarcerated who attend the services are violent criminals.
Through the mercy of Jesus, we have an opportunity to swing the sword of the Spirit at them; and this we do with all our might.
We know that many of them are habitual offenders, and are instruments of Satan wounding and destroying wherever they go.
We have had people who have attended services in the jails come out and murder people we have known.
The stakes are high; it isn’t a game; and we don’t play either.
We strive to go filled with faith, prayer and praise; and as Baxter said: ‘To preach like a dying man to dying men,’ to preach as if it is the last message we will ever preach and the last message they will ever hear, that they may perceive the urgency of the situation.’
For most of them, it is one of the only opportunities they have to be brought into the Presence of Jesus, and to have the great things of eternity brought to their attention before they are back to the dark sin-besotted world in which they live and have grown up in.
We show them the danger of their condition, the eternal punishment that waits for lost sinners; and then we open the door of mercy and offer them a new life, a new heart and a new future; if they will but turn and forsake their sins, and come to Christ Jesus to serve Him and only Him (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 8:13).
It is a joy to our hearts to know that there are many people we have never met, and will never meet, that won’t be victims of violent crime because of the work we do in the jails.
Some services go better than others; as there are different levels of bondage and darkness; but we have had times when the prisoners have wept small puddles of tears on the ground as they have groaned and grieved for what they have done.
Before we leave, we play worship music; while we pray for those who came up, and for the audience to praise and sing to Jesus; while we pray for the others.
Some days, those cruel criminals sing to Jesus with tears running down their cheeks.
This is no small joy to us.
We have for years stood against evil and seen the wonderful works of Christ in the lives of these sinners; we see hard hearts broken and people in thick chains delivered by the power of Jesus.
Satan led them into sin; the government rounded them up into the jail for their sins; and we gather them all together, and show them the way to the forgiveness of their sins.