We began Saturday at the halfway point of the trip. The halfway point is always bittersweet. It is tough because there are only so many moments to spend ministering with the men behind the prison walls and only so much time to spend hanging out with the men on the Crusade team. On the flip side, it is nice to know that we are all getting closer to getting home to our families and our own beds!
We spent an entire day at Zephyrills CI and ministered to around 150 inmates. I had the rare opportunity to do some umpiring on the basepaths (this is a one time thing! I have always been clear that I wouldn’t umpire even if it paid in gold bars!)
One of the biggest highlights came between the first and second games of the day. I had the chance to sit down and talk to an inmate just beyond right field. He didn’t mark his current status with God on our response card (saved today, not ready, already saved). Instead of marking his status, he wrote “I believe in the spiritual realm”. An answer such as this begs for some clarification! He explained that he believed in God and Jesus but that he didn’t know Him as his Savior. This inmate was fairly knowledgable about the Bible and he could rattle off several Bible verses about Jesus dying for our sins but couldn’t clearly describe the Gospel and how it should change people’s lives. It was a rough conversation to leave as he believed alot with his head but he didn’t accept Jesus and King and the one worth following. Please keep this young man in prayer and that he will bring the right men into his life to share the Gospel and to lead him to Jesus!
After a quick lunch and break in the complex cantina, we played one full game and briefly started another game before they closed the yard and returned the prisoners to their dorms.
When we returned home I was able to lead our team devotions. Tonight’s study was about the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 and the cost of following Jesus today. The young ruler’s commitment to Christ was tested and ultimately he decided to walk away. This sparked some great discussions in our group. We shared stories of missionaries and other Christian friends who have literally given up everything to follow Jesus. We were also able to study some individual stories about men and women who actually did leave everything they own to follow Jesus in either overseas missions or helping the poor in America.
The other devotion I shared tonight was based on Matthew 16:24- “For whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross, and follow Jesus”. I was able to share a story about my good friends Brett Dempsey who traded a life as a doctor for a life as a medical missionary overseas.
We discussed the petty things that we often fight about in our local churches and we We discussed how tough the inmates sometimes have it when they accept Christ as well.
Tomorrow is going to be another great day as we head to Lake City “CI”. Please keep our team in prayere as we wrap up our Crusade and head to the airport!