February 14, 2007
At the brig these last two Wednesday nights, we've been looking at the end of Mark 5, where Jesus performs two somewhat similar miracles for two very different people. First comes Jairus, whose daughter is close to death. While Jesus is on the way to address Jairus's problem, a woman touches Jesus's cloak, sure that just the touch will heal her 12-year illness.
The woman has been unclean for a long time and, therefore, a social (and legal) outcast. Jairus is a synagogue ruler, a man of standing. They're very different, and yet exactly the same—only Jesus can help them. And that's what He does—he heals the woman and commends her faith; he raises Jairus's daughter from her bed, and probably from the dead!
The men at the brig, like the woman, are social and legal outcasts. Yet the Great Salvation in Jesus has brought them in—into the Kingdom. Only Jesus can save them. And only Jesus can save the most socially acceptable people, too. The most popular and "right-living" person in the world needs Jesus. All are truly equal in the eyes of God—equally in need of Jesus to save.
Thank you for your continued prayers for the Hebrews 13:3 ministry. In addition to the Bible study in Mark, I've been leading a class on Wednesday nights that trains inmates in how to study the Bible, and the men have been responding favorably.
The chaplain's department has also "adjusted" to a rule that made it difficult for me to minister one-on-one to inmates for the past two years. For many years, I was able to visit inmates during the weekend visiting times, when friends and family visit the inmates. But a change made it against the rules for "official" brig volunteers to visit on weekends. The chaplain's department now will allow the volunteers for the weeknight programs (like me) to visit inmates one-on-one during the day on weekdays. This is very good news (rejoice in the goodness of the Lord!), and I intend to take advantage of this right away. Please pray that I will select the right inmates and manage my time well.
There is also reason to rejoice in the "outside the brig" ministry. I still meet weekly with Jason (we're studying 1 Samuel) and Josh (Exodus), who have been released for more than three and five years, respectively. Matt, who was released in April 2005, however, will be moving to Tennessee this weekend. We had a going-away party for Matt this past weekend, with almost 50 people attending, so Matt has had a good support system here. Matt's son Noah (age 6) lives with his mother (Matt's ex-wife) in Alabama, and Matt sees the need to be closer to Noah in order to fulfill his Christian obligation as a father.
Matt is certainly doing the right thing by moving closer; there are, however, a number of unknowns that need your prayers. He has a couple of job interviews set up, but no job yet. He has made contact with a couple of churches—and they've been very responsive—but he doesn't really know anyone there except a realtor. He has tried to contact Christian counselors in the area, but they've been slow to respond. And Matt's ex-wife, Becky, has not been too keen on Matt living closer. She has had a very hard time forgiving Matt, which is understandable, and because of that has often said some very unreasonable things to Matt. So please pray. Matt and I plan to continue our study in 1 Corinthians after the move, but over the phone rather than face-to-face.
Finally, although the new situation at the Brig enables me to meet one-on-one with inmates without having any help for the Wednesday night programs, please continue to pray that God will raise up a man who will be available to help for the long-term.
As always, your prayers and donations are an encouragement to me in this ministry.
Prayer Requests for the Hebrews 13:3 Project in San Diego
1. Pray for Matt as he moves to Tennessee: for the right job, for the right church, for a good counselor, for good friends, and for Matt to be a good father to his son Noah.
2. Pray that I will meet one-on-one with the right inmates.
3. Pray that God will provide another committed man to help long-term with the Wednesday night programs.