I want to tell you a short story. It is a story about men who have paid a price for their crimes, and a story of redemption.
They were a rough looking bunch. All of them had multiple tattoos. A tattoo on one man's leg read, "My mother was an angel, my father was a devil, and that's why I am a criminal."
I noticed one inmate had knife scars and bullet wounds across his chest, stomach and back. Another man was lifted out of a wheel chair. A third man told one of our team members after he greeted him, "You are the first person to greet me from outside this prison in the eight years I have been here."
To baptize the men, I knelt on my knees in the children's inflatable swimming pool and they sat in the pool. Scores of their fellow inmates gathered around us as they were baptized one at a time. Several hundred more were in the courtyard, listening to the singing and preaching. Quite a few of those looking on were Muslims.
Greg was baptized, and so was Earl. These two men have led many of their friends to Jesus in the last eight months. They are the leaders of the church in the prison. Bible studies are held daily among the 1600 inmates in maximum security. Regular worship services take place on Sundays, led by Earl and Greg. They are family for each other.
Twenty-four inmates were baptized. When we gave the invitation after the baptizing had finished, three men made commitments to follow Jesus.
It was a good day at the maximum security prison. Jesus was celebrated. The good news story of creation, sin, redemption and fulfillment was told again. And brothers gave witness to their faith in Christ.
The unsung hero in this story is a young woman named Maritza. She is a social worker who has been working in the prison since 1997. Because of her faithfulness and witness, the church in the prison has been established and is growing. It is because of her love for the men, and her fearless courage to move among them in every section of the prison, that their lives are being transformed.
Thank you for praying. It was one of the highlights of my life.
Floyd and Sally