"God's Strategy" Brandon Correctional Center May 25 2013,
King Jesus through John 15:7&8 informs Believers;
“if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”. NIV
I believe the Father delights in hearing the prayers of His children spoken in authority in the name of His son Jesus. He waits for them to rise like a fragrant offering and then causes the heavens and earth to move in accordance with His Word through the prayers of the Saints. We know the Lord’s will regarding prison ministry, for Jesus himself came to set the captives free. When we pray for favorable weather, for the hearts of the inmates to soften, for their spiritual eyes to be opened and the scales to fall away, for salvations and recommitments, for favor with correctional staff and administrative planners and organizers, we are praying the will of the Lord.
The Christian Light Riders know not only to pray but to pray with authority which means making proclamations and declarations well in advance of the scheduled event. A warrior who comes unprepared to a battle without sword and shield is a foolish man who will taste defeat at his own hand. It is glorifying to God when we spend time with Him in preparation before ministry. In doing so we show Him reverence and honor and respect. We acknowledge that on our own we can do nothing but that with Him, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:13. The mighty warrior David, preceding his many victorious battles, would inquire of the Lord. We are to do the same and in doing so acknowledge that Jesus is supreme and Lord over all. The Lord would give David a strategy for victory which he would not have held had he not spent time with God. In preparation for our prison ministry and spending time with the Lord, I experienced this first hand. God is no respecter of persons so why wouldn’t He bless me and our group of warriors with a strategy?
The strategy came a few days prior to the Saturday prison visit. I had received the afternoon event format from Chaplain Bernie who is in charge of the provincial corrections chaplaincy program. However I hadn’t paid much attention to the time lines per group. In past years there would be several groups presented to us and our visits would consist of twenty minutes per group. The chapter president would address the first group with a few words and a brief testimony leading into a time of personal interaction amongst the CMA members and the inmates. Then other chapter members would take turns addressing the successive groups. As President, I like that format because it gives several members the opportunity at a leadership role. We all need to be stretched and confidence grows through stepping up and out of our cocoon. Jesus delights in having us sit under His apple tree and experience His lavish love, but there comes a time that He beckons, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me”; Song of Songs 2:13. Jesus desires that our response be the same as that of the Shulamite woman in Song of Songs 4:6; “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense”. The mountain of myrrh represents the difficult places and ministry challenges, while the hill of incense represents the times devoted to prayer. All this to say; I like to encourage others to step into leadership roles, so when the Lord shared a new strategy that “appeared” to take some of that away I wondered to myself if I was hearing right. However, I now realize the Lord provided us with a new strategy because of the changes that BCC had instituted the previous year. Instead of several smaller groups, we were presented three larger groups with 45 minutes to minister to each group. I hadn’t recalled this change probably because I subconsciously didn’t want to and hoped it would return to the old format LOL. I felt the new format of fewer groups but larger numbers, encouraged greater resistance to personal ministry and I saw many walk away rather than participate or remain in large groups who socialized amongst themselves rather than with us. I didn’t realize there needed to be a “new strategy” and that a God birthed strategy would make ministering to the larger groups even more effective than the smaller groups; but of course the Lord knew.
The strategy the Lord put on my heart was to share about a fifteen minute message of salvation with each group. My first thought was would this allow sufficient time for individual prayer and witnessing? However I continued to listen for further instructions. The Lord reminded me that in past visits the inmates were very receptive to prayer for their loved ones but more resistant to receiving prayer for themself. Each visit I would challenge them affirming that I’d be honored to pray for those they loved but that I also desired to lift them up in personal prayer for their needs and for salvation. The responses were remarkably consistent from one inmate to the next; “I did the crime and I’m doing the time”; “I screwed up and I have this coming to me”; “I made bad choices and deserve my punishment”; “when I get straightened out then I’ll think about giving Jesus my heart”. The Lord said these responses convey that they feel unworthy to receive my love and they have no understanding of the fact that I have already taken all the punishment on their behalf. Can you imagine how few Christians there would be if God expected us to get all straightened out and get it all together before accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior? That would defeat the whole purpose of why He came to earth to die as the son of man. However these inmates are deceived just as I was deceived by the lies of the enemy and by religious strongholds that existed before I received my revelation of Jesus’ amazing love for me.
The strategy provided by the Lord was to share with the inmates the events of Jesus’ crucifixion in particular the initial conversations between the two being crucified alongside Jesus. Through this conversation we hear that one condemned man experiences a change of heart, acknowledges his sin (that he was guilty and deserved the crucifixion), and asks Jesus to remember him in the Kingdom thus acknowledging that Jesus is Lord. Next we witness the mercy of the Lord being poured out on the guilty man. Instead of condemning the man and condoning his sentence and punishment, Jesus welcomes him into paradise. This is a persuasive illustration of Jesus’ amazing love and desire to have all reconciled to Him regardless of the crime. Only the worst of criminals suffered death on a cross yet Jesus forgave the worst of the worst. He wants to do the same for the prisoners incarcerated today. God had set aside a special day for the prisoners at BCC, calling it today. That day was to be May 25, 2013; a day for them to embrace liberty through the knowledge of Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace in His forgiveness of all their sins.
On Saturday all my concerns regarding time lines and personal prayer time was laid down as we witnessed the Holy Spirit wrap this illustration together in a love package and place it upon their hearts. I had shared with the CLR group just prior to ministering, what the Lord had showed me and that I intended to be obedient. I also value the group’s input as many have more years of experience coupled with wisdom and we can all “miss it” regarding direction from the Lord. Thus I said we would meet after the first group had gone through and I wanted their input on how effective this was in changing the spiritual atmosphere and leading some to Christ and personal prayer. Following the exit of the first group, we did in fact meet and all agreed that the message had been effective and had kept their attention. I was encouraged by the Saints to continue with the ensuing groups.
The first group was very large; over one hundred. Last year we saw many walk away and do their own thing but this year, most remained and listened to the message and then engaged members of the Christian Light Riders.
The second group presented themselves in a fashion I have not seen in my five years of doing prison events. As we stood there, every inmate came and lined up and shook our hand and offered an introduction. Leo, a CLR member, joked that he felt we were part of a wedding reception line. I felt that was fitting as we are the Bride of Christ .
All three groups were open and receptive. Correctional Officers were a joy to work alongside as was Chaplain Bernie.
The Lord took care of the time lines as we ended up having 45 minutes with each group so there was a lot of time for personal prayer following the opening 15 minute sermon. The Lord showed us that through His strategy many more heard the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, as compared to in the past when a Gospel message wasn’t shared.
Rain was in the forecast but the Lord answered our prayers and kept the rain at bay until after the event concluded. This was crucial because we minister outside in the courtyard and have no rain delay date. If it’s raining the inmates won’t come out and the possibility of ministry would be bleak. We proclaimed and declared dry weather and even assured a correctional officer who at one point felt a rain drop, that the rain would not come because we had prayed. Disbelief was in her responding tone but the result was no more rain drops and everyone stayed dry. Perhaps in days to follow she will ponder the power of prayer and standing on faith. A thank you to Josh for being quick and assertive to come against doubting words yet doing so in love and without tone or arrogance.
We truly ministered as a group having uncommon favor with God and man. What were the numbers you ask? As humans we tend to equate numbers with significance and the bigger the numbers, the more God is glorified. I don’t know if that is His heart. We know from scripture that when even one person comes to receive Jesus, there is much rejoicing and celebration amongst the angels in heaven.
In total over 160 inmates heard the gospel message, the Good News of Jesus’ love for them and the promise of salvation. Thirty nine (39) received personal prayer through the laying on of hands. Six (6) recommitted their life to Christ. Four (4) received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They were encouraged to connect with the chaplains to begin a discipleship program. In addition to these numbers, there were many conversations between CLR members and inmates in which seed was sown.
Seventeen (17) CMA Biker Bibles were distributed and went to those committing their life to Christ or under special circumstances (some were Christians who were borrowing a Bible and did not have their own). Many copies of Our Daily Bread Biker Version were passed out.
I began this testimony by quoting John 15:7&8 and shared how we, the Christian Light Riders prayed in authority, believing we would receive as we aligned our prayers with the Word of God knowing His will and standing in faith that His will be done. As Jesus tells us, this is to our Father’s glory. Jesus and our Father are glorified when we apply His Word and petition Him using His Word. We read in Hebrews 5:7, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission”. We are to do the same.
We trust in God that the prayers offered up with authority and stood upon in faith will send demons scattering as they run and flee for they can not stand before the power of the Word of God.
At the end of the day the CMA Christian Light Riders broke bread together and celebrated, boasting in the Lord and His mighty power over the forces of darkness. Through the Lord’s counsel and strategy, His light came upon many inmates. May Jesus Christ be glorified, and only He is worthy of all the honor.
Following the acknowledgement of our wondrous Lord, I want to thank others who were obedient and willing to be used of the Lord. CLR members in attendance included Area Reps Gene and Helen, Vice President Grace, Treasurer Leo, Secretary Ingrid, Road Captain Hank, Merl, Scott, Hubert, Josh, Cindy, and friend Deb (aka Pinky). Your support as fellow warriors ministering alongside me is appreciated beyond words. I am passionate about this ministry and you support that. Without you these prison events could not take place. I was impressed with how newer members Josh and Cindy and our friend Deb interacted with the inmates.
I also want to thank all the CLR members who were unable to attend but were pivotal in holding us up in prayer. Also thank you to other chapter CMA members who prayed for us such as Regional Reps James and Helene.
A special thank you goes to Jerry for blessing our chapter with copies of the Biker Bibles.
A special thank you to Chaplain Bernie and the correctional staff at the Brandon Correctional Center for all the administrative work and allowing this event to happen.
A thank you to my covering, that being the pastoral leadership at Bethel Christian Assembly, for their intercessory prayers and to congregational members there and at other churches where CLR members serve.
Next the CLR Biker Saints are gearing up for many senior home visits, more church presentations, Bethel organized God in the Park event, Area 3 Regional Rally, several secular rallies including Sturgis, Sunday outreach rides, poker runs, a September prison visit, and many other events. Stay tuned for more good reports on the wonders and faithfulness of our amazing Lord Jesus Christ.
Bruce Ewanyshyn – President of the Christian Light Riders