As a bi-vocational pastor back in the early 90’s, we worked with another pastor who regularly ministered at the county jail. We had always left that ministry to others, but when invited, we accepted the invitation and one Tuesday night went to the services at the local prison. As I prepared for one service there, I hardly knew where to start. Finally, I spoke on this passage in II Corinthians 4:17 and 18 which states, “17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. The gist of the message was that all that we see around us is temporal—walls, bars, guards, etc. Then, I made the comment that there was only one thing in the room where about 20 women and 1 guard and 2 preachers were assembled that was eternal and not temporal. No one knew. Then I held up the Bible and said “This is the only thing eternal in this room that we can see.” Our text tells us to look at eternal unseen things not at the things that are seen. Somehow, the females there were listening. All the things you see are not going to last forever. That must have given hope. The things you cannot see will last forever, so what does it take to comprehend that—faith or believing? At the invitation, I almost fainted. Thirteen hands went up in the air to believe in Jesus Christ. I could hardly speak. I went over the plan of salvation and asked each one to pray the sinner’s prayer in their heart and mean it. They did, in unison out loud. The men’s group was next, and there was one Hispanic fellow in the crowd. He did not understand much so we led the song “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart” in Spanish. He perked up with a big smile as he sang. At the end, he came forward to the front, an 8 foot table, and we bowed in front of, almost under, that table and I asked him to ask the Lord to forgive him of his sins and come into his heart. I did not know if he understood or not, but he prayed.
The next month, the female group asked me if they could sing a song. I surely did not know what to do, but the answer was ‘yes.’ The leader started them off and glory what a song. They must have made it up and practiced it all month. The young Hispanic male came in with a “Brillo-face-smile” and had a friend with him and asked for a Bible. A new chaplain came and our services were stopped, so I don’t know what happened to these new converts.
But this one thing I do know. If I will just think outside the box of the normal and comfortable, things can be different.
May each of us try to think “outside the box” in this matter of evangelism? It is going to take more than the normal, I am supposing, in the coming days to win souls to Christ.