Monday, March 17, 2014

New life multiplied in God's kingdom

"When I first came to the jail, I was still high. It took me a long time to realize what I had done.  I was numb and didn't fear anything back then.  I even tried to commit suicide.  I felt sick to my stomach. I spent time crying and praying." 

Brad is a 26 years-old Native American incarcerated at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center since 2012. He was recently sentenced to 19 years likely at Walla Walla or Clallam Bay correction centers.

In the weeks before sentencing, he wrote out his testimony and gained a heart to influence other inmates about God's kingdom. We shared together about persevering in our deepening love for Jesus and remaining faithful in the Scriptures.

In his journey through the Department of Corrections sites, he will need to lean hard on Jesus in prayer.  We prayed together purposefully about God bringing to Brad another faithful man he might fellowship and grow together with.  

We kept studying about God's purposes in saving sinners to follow Jesus and multiply themselves with other men.  We are miraculously gifted in the Holy Spirit to work out being God's men to reach other men within the amazingly creative ways He prepares each of us.

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. ~2 Timothy 2:1-2

Here is the MRJC part of Brad's own story
"I grew up on a reservation with a loving and hard-working mother and a verbally and physically abusive step-father.  As a youth, I kept to myself.  

"When I was 17, my life drastically changed as I got into drugs, alcohol, sex, and gang-banging. There were many fights. I had to bury a lot of my family and friends. I was depressed and felt hopeless. I didn't care if I lived or died, at that point. Drugs and violence were my life which landed me in jail and drug treatment."

Brad passionately believed he could somehow save his people from drugs and alcohol and tried to quit drugs and alcohol, himself.  There were four different trips to drug treatment. He held on to his heritage and culture. He clung to believing knowing and loving his native culture would solve the problem.  He made many trips to the river with his drum to sing and pray.  He searched for a peace.  He always felt a Creator would show him the way.

"I had a prejudice against the Christian faith because older missionaries wanted to "culture us" to their way of living.  They put us on a little reservation and threw the kids in a boarding school. They beat our people if they practiced their language and culture.  So, I never opened my heart to Jesus.  On December 24th, I was really high and drunk and killed my cousin then I attacked and almost killed a police officer.

"One night when I was in treatment, a missionary on the street told me to open my Bible.  I was stubborn. Hate and prejudice filled my heart. I didn't listen because I wanted to have my own beliefs.      

"Now I know it was all God's plan from the beginning.  I put in a kite for pain medication when I really started reading the Bible.  The nurses suggested I speak to a chaplain.  I did and Chaplain Mark showed me where to start in the New Testament and a prayer to forgive me and for salvation.  We did it but it was half-hearted because of my prejudice.  I now know the devil tried to stop God's plan to save us from the lake of fire and eternal death.

"I've spent time in my cell reading and trying to understand the truth.  It was very hard battling my pride, pain, and hate.  I didn't want to change.  It took time but I learned God loves me."

Brad and I met for weeks at the beginning and then he went through a season when he told me he didn't want to spend time with me.  I go into his unit several times a week so I remained available to all the inmates.  This cycle of meetings followed by apparent lack of interest repeated for around nine months.

God held Brad's heart but he was doing battle with those issues of hate and prejudice he shared in his testimony. Spiritual warfare was fully active.  

Many men in that unit ridicule those seeking to follow Jesus.  His eyes telegraphed he wanted to meet but something was holding him back.  I continued to pray and greeted him when I visited the unit.

I invited him to meet with me and he was not interested until one day about 18 months ago.  He shared he was ready and wanted to meet.  He had been reading and marking his Bible. He brought in his NKJ Study Bible and began asking me questions about growing faith.  We read, prayed, and laughed together. 

There were always more questions.  His inquiries grew deeper as he was gaining understanding.  God's truth was catching fire in Brad.  My purpose was to answer his questions by showing him how to find the answers himself around the context in the passage. 

I repeated, "Where can you find the answer yourself?  Let's look!"

We worked together through learning to use the cross references, concordance, and study notes.  I asked him to do his own study and share with me what he learned the next visit.

Would you join me in praying for Brad?  We may be writing in the next weeks.  Pray God Himself will use Brad to reach other men. Pray Brad will continually remain passionate to remain faithful and be God's man to multiply others in the correction center where he will be placed.