“What the heck am I doing?!?” I thought as we were approaching the prison for ministry. A group of DTS, Discipleship Training School, students and I were ready to go into a prison to minister to inmates in Pachuca, Mexico, but my thoughts started to make me anxious, “What’s it going to be like in there?” “Will it be safe?”
Then, the story of Daniel and how God shut the mouths of the lions started formulating in my mind. I began to command my spirit to rebuke fear and pursue anticipation for what God would do. With new resolve, I entered the prison focused on the Lord.
As we worked our way through the crowded jailhouse, starting with the processing inmates, then moving on to maximum security, and finally ending with those in solitary confinement, our team delivered a great program filled with worship, testimony, and prayer. Every minute or so, I found myself glancing to see how the students were doing and what the inmates faces expressed.
“Is there any threat?”
“God, what are You doing?”
Then again commanding my soul to be bold and choose courage, I started going around the cells shaking hands, meeting inmates, and introducing myself. One individual stood out to me. Unfortunately I can’t remember his name, but I'll never forget his face. I started a conversation with him and through the translator, heard his story. Then I shared the Gospel, telling him who Jesus is and what Christians believe. I prayed for him and encouraged him to get to know God, explaining to him how there isn’t a specific prayer or a single commitment he was supposed to make. Surrendering our heart to Christ is a process, and prayer and listening is a great place to start. After that I reached my arms between the bars and embraced him for a few moments; then I simply leaned up against the bars with him listening to the worship team.
Reality sunk in and I found myself thinking again, “What the heck am I doing!?!” However, as I looked around at this man behind the bars, I realized this guy is a child of God too, and Christ loves him just the same! I no longer saw him as a threat or someone to fear; I just looked at him as a friend. Then my heart went even deeper hearing God ask me, “Would you switch places? Would you take his sentence and let him walk?” Without hesitating I responded, “Nope!” I then glanced over at an empty cell and realized Christ totally did that for me in an even bigger way! I wasn’t just in a cell with a sentence hanging over my head either, I was in hell with no hope at all . . . until Jesus came and rescued me! Amen!!!
Only God and His goodness could give me boldness to reach into a cell and embrace and love an inmate in maximum security! Then to my surprise, as I looked around me, several students were doing the same in that moment! Praise God for the work He is doing in the inmates lives in that prison!!!
There are many in our world that need to know they have value and are loved by their Creator. Join YWAM Tyler and be part of a movement of young people, who are traveling the globe for Jesus!
Author: Johnny Murphy ~ Johnny serves at YWAM Tyler as a DTS and SOE school staff leader. He's currently leading a team on outreach in Mexico.