Quietly Changing Lives
What would Jesus say about the Christmas holiday celebrated in our society today? As Christians we should celebrate His birth every day, especially in these troubled times.
Before Yvonne came into my life there was no Jesus, so Christmas time meant “party time.” Then I received the gift of Jesus and received the most important gift of all - Him. We have spent a lot of Christmas Eves and days with inmates inside prison. On the outside it is a time to celebrate, but for those on the inside who have lost their freedom, this becomes a sad day. God gave all the gift of eternal freedom with the birth of Jesus. A great joy of this season for us is hearing from those who found Jesus through this Ministry and through all of you.
This is one of the few times of year that we can “get away with” speaking to others about the good news of our Lord’s birth. Use this Christmas season to encourage your pen friend inmates, and to show those around you the joy you have as a result of the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received - Jesus, and eternal life through Him!
Many years ago I preached at church, and then we conducted a Prison Ministry program. After we were finished with our presentation, a very little, very old Spanish lady put a cloth in my hand and said, “Please let this help lead someone to Jesus.” I put the cloth in my pocket, and took it out later when we got home. It was a handkerchief with eighty-seven cents inside. I can say that I felt this was the biggest donation we had ever received. The next day I preached a million-dollar sermon at Soledad Prison, leading many to Jesus.
JESUS TOOK MY SINS AWAY
I was sitting on my bunk thinking of what I had done to my life, my family and friends. Thirty years! I would be sixty (when out of prison), most of my family gone.
Hearing a female voice say,
“Hi, I’m Yvonne, Jesus sent me”
was a shock. She told me
about their Ministry and offered
me free Christmas cards with
stamps. Why? Her husband
joined her, and they shared how
I could receive freedom even in
here. I shared my family with
them. They shared with me the
family of God and invited me to
join. I did and about a year later
really did. I still have a long time
to serve. My dad died but Jesus
took my troubles away.
I was in the hole for stabbing another inmate. A guard pulled me out and took me to the nearby office. I was cuffed to a chair and left to wait. A bit later I met the Chaplain, Don. What a job he had that day. My two brothers were killed in a gang fight in Watts. No, I did not cry, we all expected that outcome. This stranger took the time to allow me to call home.
“Son,” he said, “There is a better way to live and a better
future for you.” No, I’m here (in prison) and will be back if I get out, I
said. “Why?” he asked me. It’s just how it is, I said. “Your Grandma
taught you better,” he told me. How did he know? Yes, as a kid I
spent days in church. “Did you ever meet Jesus?” he asked. I told
him no, I went through the motions. I was a member of the BGF
(Black Guerilla Family) and bound by their code. He told me that on
his way to die Jesus met someone who helped him carry the cross
to his death. When HE died, Jesus fulfilled a promise to set me free.
It took two years, a couple of Pen Friends, and a Bible study through
Breath of Life, and I met Jesus.
In two years I will go home. I lost two cousins and my dad
since I met Don. I pray God will give me the means to minister for
Him in Watts. I will remember Christmas as my “birthday.”
Most of our Christmas holidays were spent at Soledad Prison, where we worked as Chaplains for the longest period of time. One year we received permission for Bikers for Christ to bring their bikes on the yard with Willie Nelson. The turnout was great, and we had a prize for the winner of who had the best Bible Study and Church attendance.
Another year we had different church members from the community come to the prison yards to sing Christmas carols, while the inmates listened from their cells. Another Christmas at Paso Robles Boys School had the best net result. We chose the dorm that housed the hardest kids, and Jesus was there. Sadly, we met many of these youth in later years at real prisons. Six of them made the choice to change and break the direction their life was headed in. They were all released and we still hear from them.
My heart was touched by a Christmas Eve on Death Row in Kentucky. Yvonne got the warden to have family members present. There were also a lot of guards there, and the song service lasted forever. No, folks, we do not do anything that Jesus in His Word does not ask us to do.