“I’m not afraid of going to the joint!”. This is something that missionary athlete Robert Cook and I heard this week while volunteering in our local JDC (Juvenile Detention Center). This young man was in his mid-teens, and Rob didn’t give him a chance to say much else. He shared with this young man all of the times that we have heard inmates stop and tell us about how they wish they knew Jesus sooner in life and what they wouldn’t give to go back and tell their younger selves about the consequences of the choices they had made.
We almost always have a great day in prison. Our ministry is fun and rewarding. We love the game of softball and we typically get to play lots of it. We also have the opportunity to share the Gospel with men who need to hear about Him. The typical Saints bus is full of guys who aren’t the typical first round draft picks for getting up behind a microphone and telling guys about the Lord. Our team typically spends anywhere from a Saturday morning to a week traveling the interstates and country roads of our great nation with some of the best friends that I will ever have. To quote my friend and teammate Rodney Stewart, “I can’t believe I get to do this!” We have so much fun doing what we do behind bars, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the places that we visit are an absolute nightmare to live in especially if one doesn’t know Jesus Christ. God tells us several times in His Word to visit those who are in prison, but my prayer is that I will never see that young man from the JDC in a prison yard. My prayer is that God gets a hold of his life.
The Kentucky Crusade began the morning of Tuesday, August 15th, but, as for me and my two other IL teammates, we were all heading for work. We wouldn’t join the team until late Thursday night. We woke up early Friday morning in Lexington, KY. We met our teammates for the weekend. It was great to see so many familiar faces from different parts of the country. We had teammates from New Jersey, Pennslyvania, Georgia, and of course us from Illinois.
We arrived at Northpoint Training Center that morning for three softball games and some lunch with the men there. We won the first game but the inmate team was very good and hit several home runs on what is one of the most interesting fields that I have ever played on. There are several slopes and valleys in the field as well as a large draining culvert in center field.
After the first game Wayne Hinkson shared the Gospel. I hung out on the other team’s bench and talked with some guys after the preaching time. This prison was also somewhat unique as we were not allowed to hand out literature on the field. Instead, we got to leave a box with the chaplain and the Gospels would be handed out later.
We enjoyed a prison lunch of sloppy joes which was no where near as bad as it sounds. They also had a really good traditional prison cake which is actually one of my favorites. The cream cheese frosting is usually a consistent no matter in which prison it’s served.
We came back out and split the two games that we played. While we were playing, another group was playing music and also sharing the Gospel across the yard. We did have a little bit of trouble keeping the men’s attention as the other group was doing their preaching time, the same time as NJ Missionary Athlete, John Chisholm was speaking during our preaching time.
Usually we collect cards and have numbers to report such as the number of guys who accepted Jesus and the number of Gospels that we handed out, but, since we couldn’t distribute literature, we won’t know for sure until we see some of these guys in eternity!