Recently I saw a church sign that read “Nobody’s in charge of your happiness except for you”. This led me to think about the opportunity in August when our Emerge family ministered in Columbia, SC. This was my first experience of ministry with the incarcerated and it was heart breaking to see those babies behind the razor wire. The weekend included prison ministry training and services in several facilities. I had the opportunity to minister with my team at two juvenile facilities. This experience was eye-opening and has forever changed my life as these kids ranged from 11 to 21 years of age. They could be my children! And I know that their choices got them where they are and to be honest I have made some of the same choices; the difference is; I didn’t get caught. But their choices can also keep them from returning once released; as long as they know there is another way and that they are loved.
I had the opportunity to go to a maximum security juvenile facility that Saturday morning. Upon entering the gates and looking at the razor wire I was in awe. After reaching our destination; I watched the kids walk into the building for the service and it my heart broke as tears welled up in my eyes. It was all I can do to keep it together because I kept thinking that could be my child. And every one of those kids are somebody’s child; could be yours! Just one decision can make a huge difference in your life! Our team ministered through music, song and Word. And some of our Emerge family shared personal testimony of how they have been right where these kids are. During this service one of the incarcerated youth gave her testimony for the first time. And at end of the service there were many who came up to rededicate or give their lives to God.
After leaving this facility we rushed back for training then off again to the next juvenile facility (evaluation center) for our next Emerge Live event. Here our band set up inside the outdoor basketball court and the correctional officers brought out three different groups (2 male and 1 female) at separate times. We had 3 mini services within a 2 hour period that consisted of music from Emerge Live, rap by Robert Roberson, mime team performance, testimony and the Word. Within all three services on that basketball court there were several that made a decision that day to make a change in their life. And with an opened door by God the night before; all 10 of the girls asked Christ into their lives. Go God!
Most of these kids just need to know that somebody cares about and loves them. Granted their bad choice landed them in prison but as our Emerge family shows the love of God; it is our hope that the incarcerated will realize there is a better life out there. As they get to hear how God loves and died for them; they also get to hear how God has changed our lives. All this is in hopes that they will make a decision to choose a better life as they are responsible for their own happiness. The world is so quick to write these kids off and be judgmental because they perhaps have been a problem kid in school. Some of these could be my 5th grade students as they are the same age.
From troubled homes, broken families, drugs, drinking, runaways, etc. we don’t know why these kids are in prison and isn’t our place to judge them. It doesn’t matter what they have done; God can forgive and will if they ask. We as Christians are to lift one another up; not tear one another down. So with a heart of compassion let us lift in prayer instead of dismissing or criticizing someone for their behavior. What if it were your child? Would you prefer criticism or prayer? Out of the mouth we speak life or death!
In an email after that weekend Judy wrote “Wow what a weekend we had! I just could not wait any longer to share the results with you. This weekend was the first of many Emerge Life Events. Even though we had very limited time to prepare for this Life Event, we could not have asked for a better outcome. God’s favor was all around us. Terry and I want to thank you again for being “A Voice”. Each of us unified with one purpose, to spread the love of Jesus to the lost and hurting; thatequaled one of the most powerful crusade weekends I’ve ever been a part of. We thank you for your part in making that happen. We ministered to a total of 439 inmates. There where 59 salvations and there were 36 rededications. And all of this was accomplished with one God and 34 volunteers!”
To God Be All the Glory, Honor and Praise!
If your interseted in joining us for thr next Emerge Life Event December 1-3, 2017 sumbit a volunteer email and we will contact you with the details.
You can do this at http://www.emerge4unity.org.
Be A Voice drop down menu, Volunteer Partnering.