Rikers Island Update, 4-28-17
Amazing Stories to Share
Yesterday was an exceptional day! Normally I go into the unit to pray with the Correction Officers around noon. Before I left my house I felt that I should proclaim Friday as, "no alarm Friday!" Please remember, this is the gang unit at Rikers, where just six months ago, before I started going in, there were on average six to eight alarms a day and lots of violence. As far as we know there were no alarms yesterday. Ha! Praise Jesus!
Now when I arrive at the unit they give me a green pass, which means I don't need any escort. So after moving through yet another security checkpoint, I am permitted to walk by myself anywhere in the jail - Amazing!
Many of the guards know my smile and in return most everyone greets me warmly. Once I entered, I proceeded to the area where we pray and began declaring God's word and promises over the entire jail. When the prayer meeting started we had about 15 officers. At the end of the meeting one of the leaders, who is quite prophetic, started praying for healing. An officer who has not been able to lift her arm above her shoulder without severe pain was completely healed! And we received another testimony from an officer who said Abba woke her up the night before and touched her knees and completely healed her. She could not climb any stairs and in this jail there are lots of stairs. Finally, the young man praying grabbed my hand and started to pray for my prostate which I needed prayer for, only: I never told anyone. It was a complete word of knowledge. I believe I am healed. Normally this would be good enough, but now the story really begins to heat up.
While we were praying we found out the head of Correction Officers for Christ had a stroke on Thursday. Next Thursday she was supposed to set up a tent in the large parking lot at Rikers and was going to host an all day prayer and worship meeting. So she was under attack! When I got back to my car I called her at her hospital in Brooklyn. The operator said many had called trying to reach her but nobody was able to get through. I identified myself as clergy and the operator replied, "Pastor, let me transfer you to the nurses station." Then the nurse who answered patched me right through to a line in her room, and she immediately picked up the phone. Please pray for her, as well as the others who are working to help reach the men of this unit for Christ. Thank you for your prayers!
Up until this moment she and I had never spoken before and just heard about each other's work. I read her some scripture, shared some words of encouragement and prayed for her. When we had finished she sounded so much better. I will follow up today.
I left the Island at 5pm and the Friday traffic on the BQE was brutal, so I stopped to grab a bite to eat and to let it die down. I received a call from my dear friend and colleague Jose Negron, the Northeast director of Prison Fellowship, and he said that he was in a jam. He asked me if I was anywhere near the rock and I was less than ten minutes away. He said the two teachers that normally oversee a class from 6pm-8pm in another unit for men couldn't make it. One of them had a heart attack. Yikes! There is so much warfare attached with this ministry. He asked me if I could teach the class. I accepted gratefully. So back to Rikers I went.
Once inside this unit I was again able to encourage so many guards, as I was met by officer Daniels, another beautiful brother in Christ, and led to a large chapel area where 18 plus men were already waiting. Most of these guys knew Jesus and we proceeded to have a wonderful time together. I shared a message about Jesus calling each of them "the light of the world," and that when they remind themselves about who Jesus is they would instantly remember who they are in Christ. This truth restores our souls and refreshes our circumstances, especially when we are facing challenges. I blended this with some of my testimony, and for 90 minutes we had so much fun in the spirit and became family.
After I had been speaking for about 30 minutes 15 more men filtered into the back of the chapel. I was told by officer Daniels they represented the Jewish prisoners. I thought I had just gone to heaven. Well, as you all know my voice really carries, so now whether they wanted to or not they became part of our service. Ha! About an hour into the message almost their entire group was wrapped in attention and hanging on to each word as I shared the grace of God. It was so much fun! Now each chance I got I was calling Jesus-Jeshua, ha-ha!
Finally we had reached the end of the evening and I said, "please let me pray for us." I then asked everyone to stand. So as I am praying, I sense that I should invite the Holy Spirit to baptize them in the Spirit and release the gift of tongues. Some of them had never even heard of tongues before and two of them did not even speak English. As I spoke I had one man translating for me from English to Spanish. So we prayed and I invited the Holy Spirit to come, and indeed Abba showed up tangibly. They all began speaking in tongues and then singing spiritual songs in tongues to Jeshua. It was amazing! Then we started anointing everyone with oil and one of the female security guards, who was there on duty overseeing the event runs in front of all the prisoners and says, "anoint me, pray for me!" I began praying for her and she starts weeping in front of all these prisoners! What! This is jail! But this is jail when Jesus shows up and sets the captives free!!! It felt surreal, but it was the real-deal, because Abba was in the house.
As everyone is filing out each one makes sure they hug me, and hugged each other. There was so much love in that room. As the Jewish contingent who also witnessed all this were leaving, they were smiling from ear to ear, tapping their hearts as they looked back at me as a sign acknowledging that they were also deeply touched, and in return I was smiling and tapping my heart back at them. I believe by faith many of them were also saved. It was like being on another planet!
I was getting ready to leave, as we had already exceeded the normal time limit by 30 minutes, which also in a jail setting is unheard of,
another officer said before you go please pray for me. She also began weeping and crying out to Jesus, but finished with a bright smile on her lovely face.
My goodness, Abba loves us so much, and is simply waiting for us to come home.
Thanks for taking the time to read this account and for all your prayers and financial partnerships that are enabling me to accomplish this work. I could not be doing this without you.
With all my heart,