I’m 23 years old. I’m a “gringo.” And I’ve never been to prison to my own country. What could I possibly say about heaven to a group of men who’ve gone through hell? That’s all I could think as we were being escorted along the wall through locked gate after locked gate.
As we walked I noticed something interesting. Birds. They flew over the high razor-wire and settled in the small trees that grew in the courtyard. I thought it was kind of ironic. But I kept walking. We walked down halls and through fences until we finally got to the location where I was teaching. I shuffled to quickly set up my material before the last worship song. After a quick look at my notes I lifted my head. They chose to come hear me?
I could see so much in their faces. So many things I wouldn’t understand. Yet here I was speaking to them.
I realized I had absolutely nothing to offer these men. I couldn’t make them any promises. I didn’t have any money, food, or influence. I looked desperately down at my notes, closed my eyes, and asked God for help. I heard the men singing the chorus of last worship song “Creo en ti Jesús… (I believe in you Jesus), Y lo que aras en mí… (And what you will do in me), Recibe toda la gloria… (Receive all the glory), Toda la honra… (All of the honor), Precioso hijo de Dios… (Precious Son of God).” I was right. They didn’t need me.
For the next hour we went over the history of Israel from Exodus to Exile. God frees his people from 400 years of slavery only to see them deny him time and time again. In His mercy he sends prophets to call them back. He warns them for the next 860 years! Until inevitably they’re exiled from the land he’s given them.
Why do we fight for the freedom to choose our own prisons? Whether our filters are on cigarettes or Instagram, we let the wrong things control us. When the bible says “Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” It’s not just talking about a perspective, but a person. Jesus says “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
At the end I shook hands with a man named Carlos. He told me that his oldest son was about my age. He pauses and looked at me with pain in his eyes. He shared that all 3 of his children grew up while he was in prison. He’s been there more than 20 years now. “Looking at my life it would seem I’ve lost everything” he said. “But I see now this is what it took for God to get through to me. For me to finally listen. And for him to set me free!” He told me personally knowing God made it all worth it.
“I get out next year but I’ve been free a lot longer”…
Favorite quotes right now…
“The bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” – D.L. Moody
“Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.” – “Which is?”
“It’s not about you.” – The Ancient One (from Doctor Strange!)
Honored to take two taxis and a boat to get to one of our churches!