Commenting on Hebrews 13:3, one man notes that the verse was “pertinent to the original audience since so many were imprisoned for their confession;” but that we should also remember the verse pertains to brothers and sisters who are imprisoned for “less than noble reasons.” Further stating that “sometimes even true Christians commit crimes and end up in prison.” My experience these several years in jail ministry has convinced me that there are more than a few believers who find themselves in the “less than noble” state of incarceration due to poor choices and who yet need the love and encouragement of the church. I met one such fellow a month or so ago. Bill (not his real name) is a slight built young fellow showing more tattoos than skin. He grew up in South Jackson like me so we instantly had something to talk about as the other men drifted in for class. During our conversation, Bill forthrightly informed me that he was guilty of the lesser charges against him (for which he already had time served) but he adamantly denied his guilt in the larger charge. He told me that they were trying to get him to plead guilty for reduced time and that he refused. I listened intently then after reminding him that I wasn’t a lawyer, I simply stated “you are in no wise bound to plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit.” I told him that the system is imperfect and that occasionally mistakes are made before moving into our study. I was refreshed by his participation in the class but otherwise it was just another day at the jail. The following week, Bill showed up again for Bible study. During the course of the class, I instructed the men that while the work of Christ has glorious eternal ramifications for his people, it also affects them in the here and now! I reminded them that lies and deception are part of our old nature and are the domain of our old master Satan. I told them that as men of God we no longer need hide behind lies and that we can and should be completely honest with God and man, even willing if need be to “swear to our own hurt” (Psalm 15:4b). Bill was without comment as I labored for clarity and appropriate passion in my delivery but then abruptly he blurted “I did it!” Without thinking I fired back, “Did what?” to which he answered “The charges. I did it! I’m tired of lying. I’m going to confess!” Bill hugged me excitedly after class telling me that he felt as if a great weight had been lifted. The next time I saw him, Bill told me that he had pled guilty and was going to do the time. Appearing cheerful and content, he thanked me for bringing the Word and went on his way. I don’t know what will happen to Bill but as he left the room, I felt a comingling of joy and deep sadness along with humility and gratitude that God would be pleased to use a deeply flawed man such as me to expound daily the unsearchable riches of Christ – our only sure hope for this life and the life to come! I am truly humbled and grateful for all of you who through prayer and financial support makes this ministry possible! 2021 Thus Far: We started the new year with a study of the 10 Commandments including Christ’s summation of the “Law and the Prophets” found in Matthew 22. Next, we looked at various verses from Romans, concentrating on the ramification of Abraham being “reckoned” righteous by faith. After a short series on prayer, we studied the person and work of Christ, concentrating on the stunning declarations of His deity found in the first chapters of John, Colossians and Hebrews. We are currently studying the parables of Jesus. Financial Report: We started the new year strong but still need a little more than half of our annual budget. Please prayerfully consider a monthly commitment or a one-time gift! Thanks!
In Christ, John Williams Director P.O. Box 13323 Jackson, MS 39236