by Johnny Allen
Several times now I’ve been asked by people who see the posts we make on Facebook (regarding salvations in prisons) if I really believe a person can gain a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ from a prison setting, are we successful in what we do or was it all a temporary, emotional decision with no long lasting affect. Now, we all know that people don’t save people, we just plant seeds and God does the rest. So regarding lasting change…I can’t answer for anyone but me, but 12 years ago on February 24th, from a maximum security prison, I began a relationship with Jesus and my relationship has lasted! My life has been forever changed as has my eternal destination. I thank God every day for prison ministry and those willing to go. I thank God for Brother Jack and his wife, Anita who came when I was living in my own hell at Jefferson City Correctional Center and for telling me about Jesus and demonstrating His love to me. I’m thankful for Rick, Phil, and Chris who at the end of my prison sentence were ministering at Algoa Correctional Center and showed me, advised me, mentored me and discipled me…planting seeds of love, making my problems theirs – being Jesus in the flesh. They shared their wisdom because they knew what worked for them, they demonstrated what God’s love was like. And so many more prison missionaries came and shared Jesus with me, kept me encouraged while Jesus began the restoration of my life.
And now, God has placed that burning desire within me, to go plant seeds, to maybe set off a spark of hope in a hopeless man’s heart. That’s what the 3 of us are doing, just planting seeds and hopefully starting some fires in men’s hearts. Dealing some HOPE!
God calls us to follow the dreams He has put in our hearts. The outcome of those dreams may look successful in worldly terms or they may not. They may even look futile to some people. But God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful. His scorecard is different than man’s. He doesn’t judge by numbers, money, statistics, or fame, but by the state of our hearts and our desire to serve Him. Even if we didn’t see any external results, or lives changed, or even if we didn’t recognize how our hearts have changed…it would be okay.
Real success often happens behind the scenes and only God can measure it accurately. The only thing that’s important is that His purposes are accomplished. He wants hearts to change, including ours…He wants lives to be impacted even when the results aren’t visible. His work is done deep inside. Our job is to be faithful, He will accomplish results. Let me give you a few examples…
In late December we had the honor to do a couple prison services in Farmington. A 70 year old man had been carrying a burden for 60 years, his mother had taken him to church where they left an offering and lit a candle to pray for a loved one. This man stole the change from the offering plate and upon his mother’s discovery of his sin, she told him he could not be forgiven and he would go to hell. No one but he and God know how this situation caused him to live life from that point forward. At the end of the service, he wanted to surrender his life to Jesus, to be forgiven and set free from the condemnation of sin, to have peace in his life that he hadn’t known in the last 60 years…and I believe he started a new life that day. Another miracle occurred just a few weeks ago at Algoa Correctional Center, a gentleman who called himself “Wolf” came to the foyer at the end of the night as I was explaining the Gospel and walking the men who wanted to follow Christ through the scriptures. Wolf was not joining in the circle of men but listening intently. After the group of men prayed to receive Jesus into their lives I asked Wolf if he would like to give his life to Him. He was in a spiritual battle, he struggled with honoring his heritage (he is native american), he thought that becoming a Christian could not coincide with his ancestry, he believed the Word of God and as the Holy Spirit brought the exact right scriptures to mind to speak to him, he began to sweat, he began to weep…the enemy was fighting for his soul and the Father was calling him to himself. It was a sight to behold and as his sweat and tears mingled together and pooled on the floor, Wolf’s heart was softened, broken, and made whole all at once.
So let me answer the question of the post…Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus is changing lives in prison, that the relationships between prisoner and Creator will last and that the 3 of us are successful in our calling to go to the prisons and plant the seed of Hope and share the love of Jesus with the men we are so blessed to serve. I believe that Jesus changes lives in prison because I am one of the changed.
*Here’s a first hand account of how God is changing lives inside the prison walls. This former offender sent a message to Sing for the King
“Christy, hello!! God bless you. I was a chapel clerk at o.c.c. when I saw you last. I was due to leave o.c.c. in a few days so you, your husband and IAC, Wormington prayed for me in mainstreet of o.c.c. after your concert. I live my life for the Lord, I’m very obediant to Him, and He takes very good care of me. I’ve been in Freeway Ministries in Marshfield ever since I left o.c.c. and doing very well. My roomate and sponsor has your CD that I listen to daily. I just wanted to let you know that your music inspires me everyday, and you and your husband’s prayers that day left me in very good hands. Thank you, not too many people care for us that have been on the other side. I met Mrs. Wormington in 1989 in Jefferson City when I had a 20 year sentence, which I did 20 years of, so that should tell you a little of where I was and who I am now. I’ve been saved for 3 years and love every second. I just wanted to let you know your ministry is life changing. Thank you. God bless you and thank you again.”