I grew up as the last house on the street that wasn’t a farm. If I walked out my house and faced south, it was mostly houses of middle america suburbia, nice yards, and kids playing baseball. If I turned around and faced the north it was hayfields, cows, and corn. The country home that I grew up in had a nice basketball hoop but had a farmer’s driveway with lots of gravel and rock underneath of it. I had plenty of time to shoot around but the large reject rocks that we had made it tough to learn to dribble a ball. So to this day, I would rather watch paint dry than to embarrass myself by playing basketball!
Fast forward to the last visit of the Crusade to Sturtevant Transitional Center. Sturtevant didn’t have a softball field but had an outdoor basketball court where we were scheduled to play two basketball games. Fortunately for everyone involved, there was enough Saints basketball players that I could just sit on the sidelines and talk to guys during the game.
I met a guy who had worked on the crew when the crane crashed at Miller Park in Milwaukee. We got to spend about 20 minutes talking about factory work and shop talk. Unfortunately he went back inside the building during our preaching time and I didn’t get to follow up about where he stood with Jesus.
I had the opportunity to meet another man who was a little older than I was. I told him about why were there and he was a little perplexed. He really didn’t know who Jesus was or anything about God at all. I did my best to explain that God created everything and that we disobeyed God and rebelled against him and God called that sin. He was still a little perplexed but I tried to explain how God not punishing sin would be the same as a judge not punishing someone for breaking a law. He understood that a little better and listened politely. I was trying to explain John 3:16 and he stopped me to ask what the little numbers (verses) meant in the text. It was a very interesting conversation. I wish I had been better prepared to walk someone who has no real concept of God from creation to sin to salvation. I will be working on that for my next several visits!
Overall on the day we handed out 35 Gospels of John and saw 4 men make first time decisions to accept Jesus into their lives!
This was a milestone trip as I went on my 10th Crusade (Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arizona, Alabama, Florida, and now Wisconsin!). It was great to see guys who were there the first time I set foot in a prison. I really admire those men and the trail they blazed that I might get to do this! I also loved meeting all of the guys who have just starting playing the last few years. It is fun to see the excitement that they bring and the passion for sharing the Gospel!
During this trip we handed out 1095 Gospels of John and saw 108 indicated that they wanted to become followers of Jesus Christ! God used this group in a mighty way. He could have chosen several other means to reach these men for Him but He chose a group of men who love the game of softball to accomplish His great purpose in drawing people closer to Himself. God is great and my heart is full that I got to be part of it!