I love statistics in sports. I love looking at the backs of baseball cards and seeing how many home runs someone hit and seeing how they trend throughout their career. One thing I do not love is when we do it in Christianity.
Even after all of the years that I have been involved with the Saints Prison Ministry, I am still hesitant to say, “we had 12 people indicate that they followed Jesus today!” I don’t know the condition of their hearts, but I know that your average outreach activity doesn’t typically have that many decisions for Jesus. One of my missionary athlete teammates really made a good point as to why we see that many men make decisions to follow the Lord when we come in. He made the point that we are seeing a bunch of guys who are basically, the prodigal son. In Luke chapter 15, Jesus is talking in parables about this young man who arrogantly asks for his inheritance early and then spends it all on bad decisions. Once the young man realizes that he has nothing (no resources, no family, and no pride), he begs his father for forgiveness only to find out that his father still loves him and is waiting for him with open arms. We typically see hundreds of men during each visit who are ‘that guy’ and they are ready to make a decision to follow a God who offers forgiveness.
Kentucky State Reformatory is one of the most intimidating building structures that I have ever encountered. There is a huge tower that rises above the Kentucky hills and cornfields; it looms over the prison grounds and is visible from every angle of the prison yard. The last time we were there in 2014 we played against a really good prison team and we were dreading the team that we would face later that day. We arrived and took the field and met several men who have seen us play over the years. We found out from the prison officials that we would be playing FIVE games against one of the better prison softball teams in the country. We came out swinging and won the first two games of the day! We shared the Gospel with the men in between games. I had the opportunity to pray with a couple of guys and hand out some Gospels of John behind our bench. After the second game was over, we went inside and had lunch with the men there. This lunch was not as good as the sloppy joes but it was still nice to sit and enjoy some time with the men there. I sat across from one of the umpires. Once everyone was done eating, we took turns introducing ourselves and sharing a prayer request with the room. This was very special and unique. There were so many of the men who wanted prayer for family on the outside. There were also several guys who asked for prayer for friends in the prison and that they might come to know Jesus while they are in there.
We came back out and played the second half of the day. We lost a tough game three but rebounded to win game 4 and win game 5 in the rain! Wayne Errig shared the Gospel in between games and did a great job.
Overall on the day we saw several men make decisions to follow Jesus and we handed out well over 100 Gospels.
We enjoyed a Mexican meal as a team. I will write about this in a future blog post but I always struggle to order Mexican food without my wife, because I really don’t know what anything is!