One morning back in 1999 while getting ready to go to church I received a phone call from a young friend of mine from jail…

He said, “Brother Al, I need to talk to you brother! I can’t do this! This is my third time being locked up, and I know that I will be away from my family for a very long time. I really need to talk to you!”

I responded, “Okay, I will stop by to talk to you as soon as I get out of church”.

I had ministered to this brother by phone and letters while he was in prison before. My phone would ring and I’d hear… “You have a call from ____________ at the ____________ Center for Corrections.” I would quickly respond, “Yes”.

He was very sincere, and He told me that he had been brought back to Christ while in prison. Not only that, He felt God had called Him to be a minister.

After being released he, came to church and was given the opportunity to preach his first sermon, “Are You Lame” from Acts Chapter 3. His sermon was very good. He then told me he was anxious to go and witness to the people he used to ‘run with’. Those who were his ‘partners in crime’…both figuratively and literally.

I told him, “I admire your passion to reach back and grab them, but PLEASE don’t do it until you’re strong enough, so you aren’t drawn back in. I then reminded him of the warning in the bible…

Galatians 6:1

 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 

 And also,

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV)

 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

He did in fact try to reach back, and unfortunately, he got drawn back in. That’s why he was calling me from jail.

Well, as I said…He asked me to come and talk to him that morning, and I told him that I would as soon as I got out of church.

While I was in church, he hung himself and died.

My church should have been at the jail that morning.

I let him down…

I let God down…

For religion…

For duty…

For tradition…

For ‘a form of Godliness’…

I missed the entire purpose of what church equips us to do. (Ephesians 4:12)

I missed an opportunity to save a life.

This is one of the reasons Jesus said…

Matthew 9:13 (NKJV)

 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’[a] For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”[

This is one of the reasons the bible says…

James 2:15-17 (NKJV)

 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

This is one of the reasons the bible says…

1 John 3:17 (NKJV)

 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

 And most definitely why Jesus said…

Matthew 25: 31-40 (NKJV)

 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

God told me to move that morning and I ignored Him, because I felt I was doing the right thing. But, had I looked closer at the word of God…I would have quickly gone to the jail.

If you feel God is placing it on your heart to move, to do something, to bless someone, to pray for someone…test it by His word…pray for wisdom, guidance and protection…and do it.



Add yours

  1. Jesus delayed when Lazarus died. He let no one died. I know where you’re coming from here, brother, but you did not wrong: your friend did. Yes, many get tied up with the church and miss doing what the church is supposed to be doing. Yet, we should not take on the responsibilities of what others do such as the case of this man in jail. You were going to go and that is that. Had that been me in jail I would not had thought I was the only person on earth. It’s terrible, but that’s how it is. Thank you for your honesty. I love you for it and too, how you loved your friend. But, I love our mission too much to come down on us when it doesn’t work out the way we want it. I believe God our and Lord, Jesus are the same.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for your honest confession. First of all you have plenty of company including myself in our shared weakness of just following the railroad tracks of tradition rather than the path of Jesus. The good news is that whether there was a good reason or not that we are fully and completely forgiven. The better news is that when we confess our faults to each other God listens and brings more than forgiveness…he brings healing. (James 5:16) Be truly blessed today brother…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. We pay gravely when we don’t listen to what God puts in our hearts. I’ve been there. However salvation is an individual matter. We can’t save anyone. Only God saves when we have that personal encounter with him. While we are His tools, we are also humans that mess up. Maybe you could of stopped him, maybe not but, Your brother already knew the Lord and he made a decision. I commend you for being able to use a painful story to encourage others. I pray that if you ever struggle with the guilt of your brother, that you can leave it in God’s hands.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Oh my heart aches for you. I think this is where we have to remember that all things work for good to those called for him.We just have to trust.Some answers we just want get until we are on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Brother Al,
    Oh… I am praying for the right words. My heart is overflowing with compassion and sorrow.

    When I was fifteen years old, my life was unbearable. The emotional and mental pain that I was in, the place I was living in, was more than I could handle. I had no hope. I saw no way out of my situation. Death was my only means of escape. So I hung myself.

    April 1969. Less than a month away from my “sweet sixteen” birthday. Exactly half a century ago. I hung myself. I should have died that day.

    The reason I did not die was because the very large, solid looking pipe that I hung myself from, broke with my slight weight. I was a skinny, malnourished girl. My body’s weight should not have broken that pipe.

    But the pipe broke. I lived. Because, apparently, it was not my time to die.

    If someone had come to visit me earlier that day, to talk with me, pray with me, read scriptures to me, would that have made a difference? I strongly doubt it. A church pastor and his wife had come to visit me, prior to this. They prayed for me, they read from the word, they gave me unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance. This was the pastor in whose church I had gone to the altar to accept Jesus as my Savior when I was six years old. I had grown up across the street from this pastor and his wife, from age six to twelve. They were a great influence on my early life. But despite this, I still reached the point where I could not bear my suffering any longer, and I hung myself.

    With all of my being, I thank God for not letting me die that day. But it wasn’t a man, not even a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that kept me alive. I fully believe that the only reason I survived my hanging fifty years ago, was because of God.

    Why did the Lord save me and not your friend? Only the Lord knows. I am nobody special at all. I have fallen and made many very serious sinful mistakes since 1969. But… I am still here. And today, my number one and only goal is to serve and bless the Lord. Maybe that’s why I am still alivr. The Lord knew that eventually, I would be fully His.

    Death and life are in the hands of our great omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God. God does not want anyone to perish. God is love — the greatest love of all.

    Yes, He has called us to be workers in His planting, nurturing, and harvest. But ultimately, the power and the glory are His.

    I love your tender heart, my brother.
    (Sorry I missed this when you first posted it. We had closed on our new house that week and I was not online much.)

    Liked by 1 person

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