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…
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.
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 ‘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 I 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.