Preaching and Acting out Faith at Riker's
PR at Riker's Island
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. - 1 Corinthians 9:24
What a full day at Rikers yesterday! An opportunity opened up for the first time for me to preach to some 70 plus adult-men upstairs in one of their housing units. This is completely on the other side of the jail, which is a long way from where I usually am with the boys.
The atmosphere was so oppressive as they have no real programs for the 350 men at GMDC, because the facility programs are designed for the younger boys, as this is the gang unit for ages 18-22. The reason they were forced to move all these adult men in was due to the fact that the boys would simply not work. (The prisoners are responsible for all the day to day functions such as all the cleaning - a huge job in itself, and food service, barbering, ... everything that makes the jail run on a daily basis.) It is like a small city. All the organized programs are designed for the boys and the men are overlooked. The older guys go stir crazy!
Just moments after I walked out of the adult unit, a fight broke out. The gospel is driving the enemy nuts! But we know the enemy is already crazy, and he proved that unequivocally when he crucified Jesus! Hah! We had an entire jail lockdown for half an hour after the fight.
The time I had with our boys today in the basketball program and bible study later was brilliant. Several new boys opened their lives up to Jesus. While some of our boys play basketball, one member of my team is a serious strength and fitness coach and wears out as many as ten others. They asked, "Poppa Rex, at your age can you do any push ups?" Well, you know me, that was all I needed to hear and I jumped right in. I out-did many of them in push ups and pull ups, but it was difficult. I am sore today. Ha-ha! They were all saying, "We can't believe you are 66!" This morning, I can believe it! (Feel the burn.) However, it sure was fun, and many came to the evening bible study because they saw me work out with them. What a great witnessing opportunity, and a good reason to keep fit (1 Peter 3:15).
I am making a covenant with them that I will stand up with anyone who shows me they are serious, and go all the way. (I will help them get more education, job training, a job, housing as some have no families, plug them into a church community, or whatever else they need to experience in order to live out a whole and transformed life.) Amen! I believe this is the full gospel. Actually, living it out, like in James where it says, "What good is it, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?"
After I finished in my unit, I went over to EMTC, a unit for adult-men, to support my dear brother Jose who runs Prison Fellowship on the island. He was launching a new comprehensive program for about 20 men. He allowed me to share the gospel and then close in prayer. As I encouraged the men in the good news they all decided to yield their lives to Jesus and all prayed in unison a precious prayer of surrender. What a day!
I could not do this alone. I thank God that you are with me. Everything all of us do we do by faith and that provides us with an infinite platform. Go Jesus!
At GMDC they give me a pass so I can go anywhere in the jail unescorted. I was told again yesterday this is unheard of for a civilian who is not on salary with the City. Abba's great favor and mercy.
But you can believe I am on alert as I walk these halls and pass lines of prisoners being moved around. This atmosphere sure keeps you on your spiritual toes.
Wow! What a blast!
-PR (Pastor Rex)