by Christy Hoagland
Sweat and goosebumps…how is that even possible? God! That’s how! Last week, the Sing for the King team had the privilege of participating in a baptism service at Algoa Correctional Center along with many other ministries. We have attended before and have always been abundantly blessed but this night was like none other. The chapel was crowded with offenders and volunteers, 27 men were going to be baptized, it was hot and I was sweating along with everyone else I’m sure. As I began leading this body of believers in song I was completely overwhelmed by the presence of God. And as we were singing His praises I felt goosebumps on my sweaty arms, I’ve never seen (or felt) anything like it but what was more amazing? That was just the beginning. God had a big night planned and my heart would continue to be overwhelmed.
The men are given an opportunity to share before they are baptized and we were all overcome by their testimonies of Jesus’ marvelous grace in their lives. Man after man told their redemption stories. Paul spoke of his son committing suicide last year and of Jesus’ work in his life to restore joy and peace. Daniel…he shared that he was the first in his family to be baptized…first! A curse was broken this night! I cried. How awesome is our God!?! Joshua…Joshua was last, he sat and watched as 26 men before him shared their stories and proclaimed their obedience to Jesus and then it was his turn. Joshua entered prison at Fulton Diagnostic and he planned on committing suicide there, he was full of hurt and pain and thought his life was not worth living anymore. God intervened and he wasn’t able to complete his task, he was then transferred to Algoa and thought he would be able to carry out his plan here. But God! God saves! Joshua shared that Jesus saved his life, spiritually and physically. Many men declared that although they had no family on the outside that they had gained a family in the body of Christ. There are so many more and I wish I could adequately express each one. My heart was so full and I felt as if I could just sit for hours quietly before the Lord, treasuring every moment. I never want to take for granted the work of Christ in these men’s lives or my own. He is alive and active and working in and through His people…and yes, even offenders, they are His and He is theirs. Many of them live more sold out lives than you or I and are a lovely reflection of the Savior, of His grace, hope, and love. Look for it, it’s there, share it, someone’s life may depend on it.