Blessed Are the Inmates
Sharing Jesus at the Clarksburg Jail
Two or three Wednesdays each month I go with a team of guys from Covenant Life to share the light of Christ with men at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Clarksburg. It’s nothing complicated or flashy. We gather with five or six inmates to listen, pray, and share God’s Word.
It’s easy (at least it was for me) to think that jail ministry is for the Marines of Christian service – the few, the proud, the prison ministry! It’s pretty laughable to me now. The jail Bible study is probably the easiest ministry I’ve ever served with. The inmates who come are usually warm and grateful. Often, they’re broken and humble enough to be honest. They are hungry for God’s presence and help in their lives. This comes out in the prayer requests that they write down and hand in to us: “Pray for me that God helps me stay free from my former addiction,” “Pray that God helps my kids,” “Please pray for me, I want to know that God is real.”
It’s people like these Jesus had in mind when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”
Several months ago a man named Michael started to attend our Bible study. Joe, one of our volunteers, was teaching on John 3. We got to the part where Jesus says, “you must be born again.” Michael began to question us with an urgent longing: “But how? How can I be born again?” He wasn’t interested in a theoretical discussion; he wanted God in his life! He candidly admitted, “I was raised in church but I never felt like I knew God.”
What do you say at a moment like that? Fortunately, God doesn’t leave us alone. The Holy Spirit helped! “Do you remember the story of Bartimaeus?” I asked. “He was a blind beggar and one day a crowd came through. He asked the people around him what the commotion was about and they told him that Jesus was passing by. He began to cry out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ The people around him told him to shut up but he yelled out all the more. Jesus stopped and had the people bring Bartimaeus to him. Jesus asked, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”
I said to Michael, “What if that was you? What would you say if Jesus asked you, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”
Michael reflected for a moment: “Wow, I would say I want to be forgiven and made new.”
“Why don’t you tell Jesus what you told us?” I asked. And he did. He prayed that God would wash him clean, make him new, make him a good father, and forgive his sins. It was an honest cry for mercy. After he finished praying, we prayed for him that God’s love and peace would be real to him.
When he looked up he breathed deeply. “Wow, I feel like I’m high! I feel like I’m stoned!” We smiled and said, “That’s the Holy Spirit!”
Praise God! He’s at work in our county. Remember to pray for the prison ministry!
Editor’s note: Learn more about opportunities for serving this ministry on the Prison Ministry page.