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"The importance of prison ministry"

       I remember in 1990, when I was not a prisoner, I was asked by my church in Brooklyn to voluntarily visit a jail, I was quick to say no.  I was too scared of the people housed in those places. Six years later, ironically enough, I found myself in prison for murder, all due to 13 years of drug abuse. Even when I was going to church I was still doing drugs, I tried to break the habit but to no avail. I would defeat it for months at a time, but eventually go right back to it.

    Then it happened, on December 12, 1996, that crazy day, I found myself alone with the worst sin I had ever committed. I prayed, "please God help me", but I was told, "No! you must go through this and face the consequences, I will help you", said the Holy Spirit, " this is not a bad dream, stay with me, I will cover you as you go through this, just believe me my son".

    After years facing my consequences in prison, I was thrown in isolation, preferably known as the hole. I got locked up in the hole for a simple bag of potato chips. Upon walking me towards my room the temptation of asking a friend for a bad of chips got the best of me. Note, the officer is waiting for me to lock in my room, and I ignored the Holy Spirit telling me to get the chips later, my stomach said otherwise. Subsequently, I found myself in isolation. I was very upset with what happened, there were accusations made by individuals which made the situation even worse than what it really was.

    My reason for sharing this story… God will turn all bad situations into His glory. It was in the hole where I wrote the song "Teach me how to obey", the theme song for our Sabbath day services.

    In my 18 years away from the free and fast world, I am learning how to fight in the spirit instead of the flesh. With the special people in the prison ministries like the ones we are blessed to have, God is using them to change the hearts of prisoners. It is good to know that there are still people out there who still care enough about prisoners, and to come in and share their love.

    " I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; in prison and you came to me": Matthew 25:36

                                                                                                                                        - Brother N.

Good morning church family!

    My name is brother G., and I greet you in the name of our Lord and  Savior Jesus Christ … Amen!!

    It truly is a honor and a privilege to be before you on this Sabbath morning. Amen! I was asked by a faithful brother in Christ Jesus, who has blessed me so much by his service to God , on the battle field, who I am proud to serve with brother Anthony Ponterio. I have learned so much from this brother, and I praise and thank god for him and the other’s who serve with him in the prison ministry team, for the S.D.A. community at large. Amen!!

    Before I begin my testimony please read Eph. 4:1-7. I thank God for His grace and mercy, for His son Jesus Christ who is the head of my life, to the elder and first lady, to the evangelist’s, missionary’s, member’s, and guest’s of the Robbinsville S.D.A. church; again I greet you in the name of peace on this Sabbath morning. Amen!!

    Well church family, my life today is open before the Lord. He’s watching everything and every body at the same time. Amen! I am so grateful to just to be alive. I was living a life that would cause me to die I this life, and die in the next. The bible says in Heb. 10:26 … those who willfully sin after they have received the knowledge of the truth , there remainath no more sacrifice for sin’s, and it continues verse 27, but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery expectation which shall devour the adversaries.

    I knew the truth early on in life, the difference’s between right and wrong, I was taught at a very early age like most children but having a rebellious spirit I would do my own thing. I started out like most teenagers, smoking then drinking, and hanging out with the wrong people in school. I was fighting all the time, not knowing why I was so angry. I was raised by my grandparents who I loved so very much but they died when I was 13 years old (that was in 1973 and 1976). I did not know why they had to leave me so early on and I never came back from that experience. Now as a teenager I was out of control , I was stealing cars and doing drugs. My parents sent me to private school to keep me from going to reformatory school and by the grace of God I would make it through school.

I came home and went on the road with my dad who was a tractor trailer operator, this would prove to be ok for awhile. By the time I was 21 my dad would get me my own rig, but my pride would quickly become a curse. I had my own business and was contracting work through my dad. I was making lots of money, which would cause me to live life like the son in Luke 15. At this time I turned to drugs and was involved with harlots all over the states that I was driving through. I was supposed to die in the streets like a dog and I know that it was God who did not allow me to have HIV or aids. Thank you God!!! Please understand I am not suppose to be here, all my friends who were living like me are gone, and I was living just like them , or worse. Paul said he was the chief  of sinner’s but I would beg to differ. For 25 years God not only waited for me but love me when I didn’t love Him, He loved me while I was a sinner.
I am so happy now that I gave my life over to Jesus Christ, prison can never take the place of salvation, the free gift that was purchased for me at the cross. I have these vision’s of people being sent to prison with Satan, chained with him in the fire, WOW, help me Lord Jesus!! I have come to realize that most people are in prison without Jesus Christ. Those who do not have their mind set on Christ will be in bondage to sin and will perish.

Today my life’s statement is in Gal. 2:20 which say’s " I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I , but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now liveth in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me". Amen!!! Rom. 3:23 says " For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"

    I was living to die because of my connection to this world and doing what the world was doing. I didn’t care about God at that time, going to church did not mean anything to me. I was like most people who attended church for the wrong reasons, they simply go just to say they went; live like the devil all week show up on the Sabbath and just going through the motions. Playing church you know, a form of godliness but lacking the power thereof. Year after year sitting in church never coming to know Jesus.

    According to Matt. 7:13-14 " I was on the wide road that leads to destruction’; I know now that I was on this road tricked by the devil. John 10:10 , the thief commeth not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. This is so very real, the devil is real and the ruler of this world; without Christ in your life you are done in this life and the next.

    It took me a long time to surrender my heart over to Jesus Christ and I would almost loose my in this world and would expect nothing less than fire in the next. I thank God for His grace and mercy for allowing me, the chief of all sinner’s, to come just as I was… broken and beaten up by the world with all it’s foolishness. It was Jesus Christ who loved me yet while I was a sinner, He died for me and paid the price for me , and washed my sins away in His blood for ever, Amen!!

    I am so grateful that God allowed me this opportunity to share my testimony, truly it is by His grace and mercy that I am alive to be sharing it all on this Sabbath morning. I owe my life to God for sending His son to die for me, for you, and for the world. Today I can truly say I can do nothing without Jesus Christ and I really don’t want too.

    The bible teaches that there is non righteous no not one. Rom. 3:10 . john 3:3 a man must be born again for him to see the kingdom of God, john 3:36 he that believeth on the son has everlasting life; he that believeth not on the son shall not live but the wrath of god abideth on him. John 3:16  for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever would believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life…Amen!!

     I was given life plus 50 years for my crimes , I am so grateful for His grace and mercy that God did not allow me to die in my sins. It is a blessing to have made it to prison , where Jesus Christ is the warden. Amen!!

Today my life’s statement is in Gal. 2:20 which say’s " I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I , but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now liveth in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me".

Well church family please pray for me , I remain always in Christ Jesus … brother G.

Trust and believe (Isaiah 41:10-14)

    Good morning, my brothers and sisters, I’m pleased to be here this morning. Today, with the time I’ve been given, I would like to speak to you from a message I’ve chosen to call, "Trust and believe".

    When I was younger I used to trust and believe that my parents would provide the necessities: food, clothing, and shelter, because that’s what they said they were going to do. Just like when we played sports, the coach told us if we would just trust and believe in what he was saying we could do anything, and of coarse we did!

    But what I want to speak to you today about is trusting and believing in the Lord. That He will see us through just as he did for the Jews that were in exile.

    In Isaiah 41:10-14 we have God Himself speaking to the children of Israel, encouraging them, telling them not to be afraid of the enemy because He is with them and He would strengthen them and help them from those who would come against them. You see these individuals were a complaining generation; individuals that were broken before he actually helped them. Tap your neighbor and tell him/her God is about to help you.

    God wanted to comfort them, then help them because he wanted them to move from a position of idol worshipping to worshipping the one true and living God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He wanted them to worship Him.

    This reminds me of Moses, how he lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. They too were crying and complaining , because they didn’t trust and believe in God many of them fell to worshipping idols. Just like some of us, we worship money, women/men, guns, and power. Instead of believing and trusting in what God is trying to tell us, we would rather trust and believe in people, you know listening to what they have to say instead of God.

    In Isaiah 41:14 the bible says: "For I myself will help you declares the Lord." But yet we still would rather listen to people who worship their money, cars, their status in their community rather than their status with God.

    In closing, I encourage you my brothers and sisters to trust and believe, when God says He would do something for you, it is already done. So whatever you may be going through know that God is going to hear you, then comfort you, and help you get through this, can anybody relate?

    Now stand to your feet and say I trust and believe that God will see me through….Amen!!

                                                                                                                                         - Brother J.

"Wish that I knew what I know now when I was young”
That is a phrase of a song I hear during a certain car commercial on television.  The words really make me think and wish. Of coarse that wish won’t come true. However, I can share with you what I do know now that I live with Jesus Christ in my heart.
Greetings, my name is Brother W., I entered these prison walls at the age of 23 years old, with the mind of an ignorant child. Lost , empty, and hating myself. I also carried the heavy burden of my mistakes and the so many people I hurt. That was 24 years ago. I remember noticing how the walls creeped around me, in each brick I saw my reflection of who I was, what I did, the changes I needed to make, and the man I wanted to become.
I was in a room by myself, just me and my sins, it broke me down to the point that suicide thoughts began calling me. I cried like a baby wanting his mommy to cradle him in her arms, with no one to turn to, I called out to the Almighty God. I did not know about repentance nor to ask Jesus Christ into my heart, I just cried for help.
That deep crying must have gotten Father God’s attention, because the next day I was handed a small red book with verses from the bible. It actually looked like a mini bible. The first verse my eyes read was John 3:16, however I did not exactly grasp its full meaning. I did feel the seed of hope being planted within my soul. Each verse after that was like a road map that would lead me to the gift of grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.
It wasn’t until I began taking part in the prison’s worship services and bible studies, that the scales feel from my eyes and I began to see. I understood my burdens were being lifted off me and I was given a second chance. I don’t know the exact day I repented and asked Jesus Christ to take charge of my life, all I knew that I was a babe in this great race I was about to run, therefore I would ask Jesus everyday to come into my life and guide me. It is only by that wise move I am here today, hopefully to make a difference.
Like I said, it is 24 years later, today I am a strong god fearing man, unfortunately it took prison for me to become a man. Thankfully it is in prison where I caved in and realized drugs and alcohol were the false gods I worshipped. In  victory I gave my life to God , and He shaped me into the man I am today. I am running the race, keeping the faith and fighting the good fight. By his love and grace I have learned to forgive myself and do away with all those negative emotions that dry the bones. I am optimistic despite these walls that surround me today, I am FREE!
I’ve been known as a prayer warrior by a dear friend of mine. I live with the love of God. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with the knowledge of the Holy Word and the courage to share it with others.
I must acknowledge the impact that the community volunteers have had in my spiritual growth. They are the ones who make it possible for us to meet, have studies, and fellowship together. They make it possible for the Lord Jesus Christ to be in our midst. “For where there are two or three gathered in my name, there will I be in their midst”. The dedication, wisdom, knowledge and love you volunteers, my brothers and sisters, share with us has certainly edified me.
The prison ministry from the  Seventh Day Adventist church, I thank you for showing me a truth I took for granted in the past. That is , the Sabbath day and how I must keep it holy. Because of you, today I rest and worship every Saturday. Because of you, me and the other brothers within the prison are able to fellowship every Saturday afternoon. We learn a lot from your teachings brothers Tony,  Moses, Waite, sisters Carmona and Grey, I love you all and thank you. My walk is made stronger because of you all.
I will continue in this pilgrims journey, regardless of this negative environment, and while I move forward , I will plant seeds in the minds  and hearts of others.
            Therefore anyone that is in Christ Jesus, is a new creature, old things are past away, behold all things have been made new. - 2corinthians 5:17
-Brother W.

                Greetings my brother’s and sister’s in Christ. May God the Father continue to bless you and enrich your spirits with knowledge, wisdom and understanding that our Lord Jesus Christ has bestowed upon you when He called you by name … amen.
            I write this script to you and hope that it touches your spirits as it did mine when I was asked to share with you the blessings of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, on how wonderful and beautifully my spirit and life has been fullfilled.
            Being a member of the S.D.A. church, “my eyes have seen, and my ears have heard”. Though I am still growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally in Christ; honoring the Sabbath day has become very important to me. Learning how to be obedient is not an easy task, however, it can be done.
            Doing what God would have me to do has become a joy and not a task; (James 1:1) despite where I am and the living conditions that I live under, sharing, giving, and showing love unconditionally has allowed me to feel what Jesus felt, especially when you live in the devils playground. The nine fruits of the Spirit are my best friends (Galations 5:22-25). It’s definitely a challenge, but I seek and trust the Lord with my whole being to the best of my ability.
            I have to done so much wrong in my life, and I am not proud of myself, but being saved through Jesus Christ by grace has allowed me to begin my healing. God has been very generous to me, He wakes me up so far every morning and I praise His name non stop. God has brought me this far and He has not left me yet .Brother’s and sister’s I tell you if you have not tried God whole heartedly, I urge you to do so;  get out your way and let God . Let God lead you to the places you need and want to go. Again it’s not going to be easy and the first step is always the hardest, but when you ask Jesus come into you life and lead you “ a great change” will begin to take place.
            Please, I urge you brother’s and sister’s, do  not get relaxed when you turn your life over to God, the devil is going to attack you more than ever, however, just like Jesus you too can defeat Satan with the word of God. You have to feed your spirit just like you would feed your physical being and whatever you do put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20)
            The S.D.A. church has opened and enlightened me tremendously. The saints that willingly come to teach us the word of God has enriched my spirit and has a special place in my heart. The saints are truly my brother’s and sister’s in Christ. I thank God for them all.
            Today, some churches preach the word of God but the S.D.A. church teaches us what the word of God says and do. God says “teach the children my word and it will be in their hearts and around their necks and when they get older it will never leave them “(proverbs 1:8)
            Well my young brother’s and sister’s in Christ, I’m going to end this script and pray that my words has encouraged  you and lead you in a continuous journey to press toward the goal. The truth needs nothing to stand on. We have it, we must use it. God bless you all!!
                                                                                                -your brother R.
p.s. - Food for thought, God gave up so many things for us,(John 3:16) what are you willing to give up to save your own life?
Stop running from God , your not Jonah!!!