Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Saturday, February 23, 2008

They let me out again. Two of them.

Certain old friends of mine might say that it's tempting fate for me to be involved in jail or prison ministry. But I did both yesterday, and they both let me out again!

Both sorts of ministry are a surprising blessing, though I'm sure it's helping quite a bit that I'm building on foundations already established with those ministries, with the help and guidance of men who are very experienced in them. I tend to do a lot of discipleship-related work at the jail, answering questions and dealing with concrete issues one-on-one, or in a small group of interested men. It's such a pleasure to deal with people who are listening because they want to, because they've seen the difference Bible truth can make in their life.

At the prison, it's more of a formal preaching service when I go (they have an informal Bible study on Saturday). I've only been out there twice, but it's so much fun going to prison, I wish I could do it more often! The men out there are again in that service, not because their mom expects them to show, or because they won't look good in the community if they're not part of a respected church -- they're present because they want to hear what you have to say. They read and study their Bibles on their own, and they're enthusiastic in the services. They seem genuinely pleased that I'm there, and it's a genuine pleasure to be there. Especially since I can leave when I'm done.

Strangely, I fell a greater freedom in preaching while I'm there than I often do in my own pulpit. It's a narrower audience, most dealing with the same issues in life, rather than the broad range I face on a Sunday morning. Many of these men are also able to receive and benefit from things much meatier and deeper than many who casually attend church on a Sunday morning. Sure, there's the spectators there too, there's the first-time visitors -- but the bulk of the group knows their Bible, knows the hard side of life, and they want something real from the Bible to take back to their lives.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lots more of the same

I'm just poking my head in here to call out that we're okay. There's lots going on and little time to talk about it. We're still in the thick of missions month, and things are going pretty well. We've heard exciting reports from some missionaries and about terrific burdens from others. I'm still working on the details of a missions trip to Las Cruces, NM, to help an old friend with a church he's planting. We're seeing far more interest in that trip than even I expected, which is producing those good sorts of logistical challenges that I'm working to address this month while I'm not doing as much sermon preparation.

We had planned a baptismal service for this past Sunday evening -- some seven people had made professions of faith and expressed an interest in baptism. But by the time the service came about, none of them worked out -- one wound up with a longer jail sentence than expected (he was converted from Islam while in jail), a few we decided didn't have a firm enough grasp on what we were doing and why, and the remaining pair's family wasn't all going to be able to make it, so we postponed the baptism. I'm guessing we'll do it piecemeal with the group, as each is able. Of course, hopefully we'll continue to add more to that number.

Tomorrow night, we have an old aquaintance of mine here to speak to us -- missionary David Gates, planning to go to Egypt. Sunday, we'll kick off a 4-day revival with Darrel Hayes to wrap up our missions conference.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

So much happening, I don't write anything

That's the annoying thing about blogging, you know -- when there's things going on, there's no time to write about them! By the time the excitement has died down enough to get a post in edgewise, the news all feels dated, and a new wave of events is bearing down on us.

The last few weeks have certainly been eventful, though not with anything really life-transforming, I suppose. We've had one of our buses break down and get repaired. Two bus workers have been attacked by a dog (same dog, different places -- the animal control folk said they had taken care of the dog, but apparently it had refused to fall for their trap, so they left it to bite again). We have finally purchased a church van (much needed! The old one broke down for good in the last few weeks as well). My NY Giants won the Super Bowl, in an upset that would have been virtually unthinkable just a few weeks ago, and still is incomprehensible to many. I've had lots of neat political thoughts and some spiritual ones as well. We're planning a missions trip to Las Cruces, NM. And I've got no time to write about any of it -- in fact, I've got to go now, too!

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