Revival is something that comes when hearts cry out to God for change. For a period spanning well over half a year, from the fall of 2007 through late spring of 2008, the men at a north Texas prison experienced real revival; sparking the kind of change that defies any other explanation. The somewhat lengthy section that follows is a slightly revised excerpt from a news letter that went out in the June of 2008. The principle benefit in examining multiple meetings over a length of time is that it’s much easier to see God’s ongoing activities. One exceptional encounter might be perceived as a fluke; a half a year of similar events is something entirely different. Enjoy.
Please note, everything that has been posted can be verified and has been witnessed by numerous individuals.
The Early Stages of Revival, October 30, 2007
I know many of you are praying for our services at prison, for which we are extremely grateful. I apologize for not telling you about the events over the last couple of weeks but overall, more people received Christ Jesus and were baptized. Last night was simply marvelous. Completely unscripted and unplanned (as were the previous several weeks), 4 brothers requested to be baptized, so we were only too happy to comply. (You’ll appreciate the significance of the fire ant bed at the base of the horse trough. Just use your imagination.) As was the case 2 weeks prior, they took turns trading off their clothes so those not prepared would not have to sit through service in wet clothing.
The service itself was awesome. The smiles on so many faces were nothing short of contagious. Our former Hindu (the new brother that requested we burn his Hindu library—2 bags full) was radiant. He resembled a sun’s ray, for lack of a better means of description. And our former Wiccan continues to demonstrate the changes God has wrought in his life. At the end of the service, instead of praying over the prayer requests as we normally do, an invitation was given to accept Christ in which 7 men responded! This time we’re planning for multiple baptisms next week. (I pray the ants will have moved on by then.)
The hunger among the brethren is only growing. Many are now inviting their lost friends to chapel services. Others continue to hold Bible studies in their dorms. My prayer is that this in only the beginning of a great move of God in an otherwise darkened community of lost and dying individuals. Praise be to God! Please keep the men and our services in your prayers.
On A Spiritual Roll, November 11, 2007
For about 2 months now, God has continued to bless our congregation with His wonderful presence. The changes He’s making can neither be dismissed nor ignored. Where even earlier this summer the tension among the brethren was often evident, the peace and overwhelming joy of the Lord is scrawled across almost every face is the capacity filled chapel. Watching the excitement reminds me of some holy contagion just waiting to break forth. Smiles, hugs and almost unlimited expressions of brotherly love serve to display the godly warmth felt and expressed by so many of the brethren. I cannot express the joy I get when I see brand new Christians bringing their friends to services—all for the hope they too might experience the new-found change of heart—the passing from death unto life. To God be the glory!
In addition to a wonderful time of praise and worship, 4 more brothers received believer’s baptism. As a note, we continue to take a bag of towels to chapel, never knowing when they’ll be needed. (Last night, as I was walking past the line of brothers waiting to sign in for the service, I had 2 different ones raise their change of clothing in a manner as though inquiring whether we were going to have a time for baptisms.) May God continue to move His mighty hand at prison.
Power and Souls, November 20, 2007
Last night was the first opportunity I had to attend chapel services at prison since my return from our team’s mission trip to Jamaica, which is itself a remarkable and separate story. (Don’t let anyone tell you God doesn’t still work signs and wonders just as He did in the Book of Acts. We saw many salvations—many within the jail where Judy, Jeanne and Harrison ministered; spiritual warfare beyond anything I had ever experienced; and miracles. Needless to say, our team can hardly wait until our return trip in April! God is awesome!) We were immediately faced with a problem that could not be remedied. By rule, only 100 inmates are allowed to attend chapel during any given service, yet there were approximately 150 in line waiting to get in. Sadly, 50 were turned away. Increasingly, it appears that revival is truly in progress.
To summarize, allow me to hit a few high spots. After a time of worship, we baptized 3 more new brothers. This is particularly significant since none of these came to Christ through any invitation we gave, to the best of my knowledge. The inmates themselves are leading their fellow inmates to Jesus Christ! How glorious is that? Prayer meetings within the prison are apparently growing. Two brothers told me that they had prayed for another that had been suffering from stomach problems for the past 3 weeks. As they prayed, the affliction dissipated. (One of the 2 praying was our former Hindu I spoke of in an earlier mail out.) The joy and excitement of being in church last night was truly infectious and everywhere evident. After Judy and I testified to God’s workings while in Jamaica, an alter call was given. Five more inmates came forward to receive Jesus Christ, along with another who publicly professed his desire to return to Christ, desiring to leave his backslidden ways behind. I suspect more will be coming for baptism next week.
More Power and More Souls, December 7, 2007
God’s work at prison is in its third month of revival. I don’t say that lightly. Although I missed giving a report from last week, our Lord drew one new creature in Christ unto Himself along with 3 or 4 professing their desire to return to a closer walk with Him. There were no baptisms only because the weather was too cold to hold an outdoor baptism service.
This week was even more spectacular. Once again, the weather was simply too cold for prison officials to allow an outdoor service (for health reasons so we are told). However, the service was packed. At the end of the service, as we have begun to pray more for healings than in times past, one brother reported on the prayer request he addressed the previous week. He reminded the congregation how his 4-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with a deadly “blood disease” (he preferred not to elaborate), that during the same night as our service, the doctors took an updated blood sample which in turn proved to be negative! Praise God! The response of the brethren was immediate and thunderous. It goes without saying that we are beginning to focus more and more on prayer and healing than in times past.
Let me conclude by saying that at the end of the service, once again we extended an invitation to come to Christ. As a result, 6 new brothers received new life. More than 20 professed their desire to get back right with God. If weather is appropriate, I suspect we’ll have baptisms next week.
Abundant Healings and Still More Souls, December 20, 2007
For almost 3 months now, I’ve attempted to keep you up-to-date with the happenings in chapel services at prison. I’ve repeatedly referred to God’s move among in the facility as revival. To be sure, it’s just that. But over the past three weeks, we’ve begun to see another dimension of this wonderful work as well which I’ll touch upon momentarily.
This week’s service has been equally phenomenal. We’ve been studying prayer over the last several weeks. The study in itself has been rewarding (if only for myself, just due to the many things I find myself learning after 31 years as a Christian), but this is not my focus. Judy—again sensitive to the leading of the Lord—brought an altar call. Three more new brothers in Christ responded. A further dozen or so came forward praying to recommit their lives to God. Another half-dozen came to the front for healing. Quickly, we were out of room at the front of the chapel. The love of the brethren continues to exceed all we’ve experienced in more than a decade of service at this same facility. I suspect there will be quite a lineup for baptism when the weather is once again warm enough to hold outdoor baptisms.
I mentioned that God is adding another dimension to our services. Allow me to elaborate. As a church, together, we’re learning the true meaning of prayer. Only part of what we refer to as prayer has anything to do with making our requests known to God, but make them known we are to do. In recent weeks, we’re hearing more of the brethren sharing praise reports regarding prayers that have been answered. Two weeks ago, we prayed for the young daughter that had a life threatening blood disease, which after prayer, the doctors could no longer detect (as of later that night following our meeting). Last week we prayed for 3 men in need of healing. One came forward this week and reported that the problem (with his arm—the specifics I no longer recall) was gone. The problem had apparently been ongoing for some time. In short, he was healed. Another man asked if he could testify, but unfortunately, between the events of the night and my increasing inability to remember much of anything (or so it seems), he didn’t get a chance to share as he’d requested. Although we won’t have service this next week, he will most certainly share the following meeting. Yes, God is adding the healing element to our service. I believe this will continue to be so as we seek dependence on Him.