It was a sunny but cold & windy morning as our team of 3 climbed into the van in Fredericton, and headed for a prison visit. When arriving at the facility we walked across the parking lot to the outside entrance of the building, the wind blew hard and the snow swirled around us, keeping the already shoveled walkway, partially covered in drifting snow.
We were glad to enter the warmth of the institution’s foyer, to sign in. After the guard checked our ID’s against the list, & looked through the things we were bringing in, we were escorted to the “chapel”, a small room with tile floors, and painted cement block walls. Rosemary welcomed the group and handed out song books. Miles played guitar and Miles & Rosemary sang, leading a time of praise & worship. We asked if anyone had a favorite, and one of the group requested “The Old Rugged Cross”, saying it had been a favorite of his grandfather’s.
Miles shared his testimony of alcohol and drug addiction which resulted in incarceration and how even after many years of sobriety from alcohol, he still was stuck in addictions until he turned his life over to Jesus.
After this, one of the young men began spontaneously sharing about his longterm struggles with “every addiction you can think of”. (his words)
Brent then used the words of the song, “The Old Rugged Cross” in his talk, talking about why the young man’s grandfather may have loved the song, and the cross. He talked about the Cross of Christ and what he did for us on that cross. He talked about the shame of sin that Jesus took on the cross in our place, and because of that, we don’t need to live in shame and sin. We can pray and receive what Jesus did for us on that cross and be set free from all the condemnation.
Our time was quickly running out, as another group was waiting to join us, and we asked if they would like to pray to receive Jesus. They said, “Yes”. Hallelujah!
As they were being dismissed, Rosemary said, “When dealing with the struggles with your addictions, remember the words to the song. Lay down your trophies, your struggles, your addictions, let go of them and Cling to the Old rugged cross.
We shook hands and they were gone.
Next a larger group of young men came in. Rosemary welcomed them too and recognized some from last month’s visit. They seemed pleased to be remembered.
We shared a praise & worship time from our song books. With the whole group singing at the top of their lungs, Miles and Rosemary were drowned out, and I am sure the Lord was pleased!
Next, Brent asked if anyone in the room had any problem with addictions of any kind, they all raised their hands. Then Miles shared his testimony. The group responded by nodding their heads in understanding as he talked about just how low and desperate he got while stuck in his addiction. He shared about going to church and getting on his knees at the altar and asking the Lord to “do whatever he wanted to do with him”, and how later that night after the service, when he was outside leaning against his car, looking up at the sky, he didn’t know who he was. He knew he was different. You could have heard a pin drop. He then shared about how his life has changed, working in Haiti, pastoring a church, visiting Kenya, being involved in prison ministry. As he talked you could see a “light” come on in the prisoners eyes, as they began to understand their lives can be radically changed by giving their lives up to Christ.
Brent shared a message about choices we make, and the consequences they have and how we can have true change in our lives, when our way of thinking changes, after handing our lives over to Christ.
Again time was running out, and we asked if anyone would like to pray a prayer to give their lives to Christ and all present prayed.
It is so awesome to be part of this ministry and to see people come to this realization and make a commitment to the Lord! I look forward to hearing testimonies in the future of how the lives of these young men were transformed by praying a simple prayer.
God is so good!!!