While I was still in the prison ministry, one program I covered was a monthly movie night at the Chapel in the Chino West yard, one of four prisons in that complex. It was a good outreach as men would come for a movie that would not have come for a regular service.
One of these Friday nights I went in, opened in prayer and then started the movie. Then I went into the Chaplain’s office as I usually did, where I would pray with those who asked for it. I had not slept much the night before, so was hoping for a quiet night.
I was resting in the office when the clerk came and asked me to come out. The movie had ended, and they asked if I would speak to the group. I said of course, how much time do I have? I was thinking only a few minutes. They told me 45 minutes! Friends, always be ready to give a word. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2).
The clerk told me there was one man there that needed healing. I brought him up believing he could get healed right then and there. Many read in the Word that God can do anything, but then do not pray like they believe that. Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Won’t you just believe the Word already?
I prayed over that man believing. We can only preach on believing when we ourselves believe. After the prayer he sat down. I don’t know if he got healed, I just pray believing, God does the work, God gets the credit. We need to just serve until we die, and then be willing to be forgotten.
I went on to speak about something. I don’t remember what it was. I was serving in prison several days a week, and had a full-time job, so I had been forced to just flow in the Holy Spirit. It was rare when I could prepare anything. I had no choice but to rely upon the Lord. My only preparation was tearful pleading in prayer that the Lord would help me. He always did. Friends, He always will.
Jesus said, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12). Do you believe that? Then live that. We have too many that prepare their mind so much and have none of His. The problem with most sermons is they are born out of the tomb of men’s offices and not from the life of the Holy Spirit within them.
I love to preach to prisoners. You don’t have to convince them they are sinners. You can just jump to the part where there is a Savior. I love the salvation verses, like this one, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
After I gave a word, I looked around to see if the Lord would reveal to me who would get saved that night. When I would preach I would often know the person that would get saved. But I was simply too exhausted to receive it.
So, I told everyone there, I am most blessed that the Lord will show me who will get saved at a service, but tonight I am too exhausted. So, if you are ready to be saved, then you just need to raise your hand. A hand went up. It was that man who had received the prayer for healing.
Friends, never doubt that God still uses wonders and signs today to win souls to Jesus. Stop limiting your evangelistic efforts to your own abilities and pray into His. “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).
This man came up to be saved and a soul was won over to the Lord Jesus that night. Oh, how we need to do altar calls in our Churches today. Sometimes the reason people don’t come up to be saved is we don’t invite them.
Don’t think winning souls is by your effort, but only His efforts through you. Stop thinking anyone comes to Jesus by your words, but by the Father. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” (John 6:37).
Know that some will reject your invitation. Invite them anyway. Better to of tried and fail than to not have tried where you may have succeeded. Don’t worry if your feelings get hurt. Worry more about the salvation of another more than the tenderness of your own soul.
When it comes to saving souls, it is about the numbers. Reach as many as you can. The Lord Jesus tells us, “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Never think you cannot lead someone to the Lord. We all have a unique testimony that is custom made to reach certain people.
Never think anyone is beyond salvation. Darkness can never approach the light, but light can always come into the darkness. Be the light.
It is not complicated. We need Jesus that we would live. You cannot earn your way to heaven because the only currency God will accept is the blood of His Son Jesus. We are bought “…with the precious blood of Christ…” (1 Peter 1:19).
After this Friday service I never saw that man again. Later he was transferred out to some other prison. A few years later the Lord called me out of prison ministry. On my last week in Chino prison I was back on that West yard for my last time. An inmate I knew from the inside church stopped me and gave me a praise report. I love praise reports!
This man who was saved had been on fire for the Lord after his salvation. He grew mightily in the Lord at the inside church before being transferred to a desert prison. At the prison he went to, he ended up becoming the Pastor on the yard, saving souls for Christ. Another man from that prison had transferred back to the Chino prison and told the brothers about his ministry.
I consider this one of the greatest gifts the Lord has ever given me. He allowed in this rare moment for me to see but a single fruit of so many years of labor. And even if this were the only fruit, yet it was all worth it. Never under estimate the value of eternal salvation in even a single soul.
I never thought myself capable or worthy to do God’s work. I still don’t. God is looking for more of the same, that He might use them. Won’t you be that person God can use? “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Be that fool.
Friends, never doubt what the Lord can do through you. It is not your talent, but your willingness to serve. It is not your intellect, but your heart that matters. It is not your knowledge of doctrine, but your belief in the Lord Jesus of whom all doctrine points to. If Jesus chose a bunch of fisherman to start a church, why do you consider you are not ready to serve? Serve.
Argue as you might on doctrines, but never let anything be more important than saving souls. Preach what you will, but make sure they hear the Name of Jesus. “Nor is there salvation in any other [besides Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
We get so lost in our story that we forget the plot. Friends, the plot of the story is that souls are saved. That is why Jesus came and died for our sins. And our mission is to preach this good news. “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15).
Blessings to you,
All Scripture is in red and uses the NKJV (New King James Version) translation unless otherwise noted.