...the closest I came to being scared was when I offered to play basketball with them because they had an odd number of guys who wanted to play. I didn't want them to have to rotate into the game. I told the fellow who was leading that I'd be happy to play, but he told me it was our first time with this group, so it might be dangerous to jump in there. It gave me a reminder that they are all there because they committed a crime, and many of them were convicted of violent crimes. Other than that I can't remember feeling afraid. I've been visiting prisoners since I was in junior high (www.RichDrama.com/HildaMiller), so knowing what to expect was part of that, but 1 John 4:18 in the New Testament says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." Because I've given my life to the Lord his love for people flows through me in a supernatural way. I wanted to perform for those young men because of the great love the Lord has for them, but I feel that love for people too as I obey the things I know He's called me to do. Everyone on our team was there to express love to them, and I know they sensed that.
He pointed out that "Amazing Grace" says, "'twas grace that taught my heart to fear" to which I replied:
Yes! Grace taught my heart to fear God.
Fear of God liberates us from fear of man.
What can man do to my immortal soul? (Psalm 56:8)
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed that Jesus Christ has saved my soul.
To live is Christ; to die is to gain eternity in his presence. (Philippians 1:12)
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Hallelujah! I just heard back from Rex, who runs Prison in the Wild and hosted my performance yesterday (my earlier report follows) in the gang unit on Riker's Island. He said all ten of the guys who saw my play attended the Bible study that night. "UNHEARD OF!" he shouted! He shared his testimony (you can catch a sense of it in the video at the bottom of this page), and afterward he invited them to close their eyes, bow their heads, and if they wanted to give their lives to the Lord to raise their heads. EVERY ONE OF THEM DID!!! So they all prayed aloud with passion to dedicate their lives to the Lord! Rex circled back to the guards who encountered them on the way back to the dorm and heard reports that they were gentlemen! Other groups typically start trash talking and causing trouble as soon as they leave the Bible study and are out of Rex's sight, but this time was different!
We started a Christian community in that dorm! Pray with us that they will turn negativity into a focus on the Lord! They all have access to Bibles, so pray they start a daily reading plan. Rex is excited about starting them on The Bible Project's reading program that includes their amazing videos: www.TheBibleProject.com.
The DVD player wasn't working, so they'll show "A Matter of Perspective" later. I'll share a report through the more frequent updates list. Be sure you're subscribed at www.RichDrama.com/Updates.
Here's my report from yesterday...
I got to perform again in a gang unit on Riker's Island through Prison in the Wild (www.PrisonInTheWild.org). They're doing some great work! Please consider giving to their amazing ministry! I met their founder in Cuba, and I've posted a video of their work below.
My grandmother took me to visit inmates when I was in junior high. You can hear her telling the story here. I know that gave me confidence that I can talk to anyone and that eternity is more important than fear. This year I've been reading through her Bible, and in yesterday's reading she had underlined Psalm 81:10: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
So I prayed that He would when I opened my mouth to perform my 1-man piece on Jonah. Afterward I told them that, just like Jonah, God has a special calling on each of their lives. I urged them to use their time in prison (their belly of the big fish) to grow in their understanding of that calling. They all came up to pray with team members afterward. I left them with a copy of "A Matter of Perspective." We've developed small group discussion questions, and we adapted them for their community. I'm really excited to hear how it goes, especially since it follows the themes of Jonah quite well!
Here's my report from my first visit in July 2017...
Jonah followed by a message I did Lazarus and just followed it with an altar call.
give their lives to the Lord. I told them that if they already knew the Lord to pray aloud so people would know. One guy on our team said though he didn't look around during that prayer his sense was that some may have come in as Christians but they all left as new creations in Christ! Pray the Lord speaks into the new commitments and that they all attend the Bible studies that are offered!
International Christian Film Festival. I accepted it for a teenager: Garrison Hill. His family produced A Matter of Perspective for which I won Best Actor in a Short Film. You'll have to watch this four-minute film to see its connection to prison.
Video Highlight: REX from HillsongNYC on Vimeo.