It is through serving that God so often teaches us something about ourselves. As we seek to be living on mission from neighbors to nations, we are also constantly being changed. God is, “seeing to completion the good work He has started in us.” (Philippians 1:6) Even as we minister to help others come to the Savior, Jesus, we are reminded that we are still in desperate need of the Savior. Over the past year and a half, some in our church community have been travelling regularly to Stony Mountain Institution to lead a time of worship through music, and to spend time in conversation with inmates, encouraging one another, praying for one another, and sharing our mutual hope in Christ. As one of the team members put it, “A great way to connect with the inmates through worship, but more importantly, through fellowship”.
Sometimes it is difficult to relate as we come from such divergent backgrounds, family histories, and lifestyles, not to mention the added barriers of a relatively short amount of time to connect and the inability to share our lives fully with the inmates for security reasons. It can be difficult to find common ground by which we might encourage and build one another up.
But several times, God has been teaching us the fundamental reality of the common ground all people stand on before Him. All of us share the brokenness of sin. All of us have the choice to deny God’s authority and commit unspeakable acts. All of us can be quick to judge another person’s situation and determine they are beyond saving, while we ignore the transformation that God is calling US to.
“It’s humbling and inspiring hearing the inmates’ stories of how they are striving and continuing to pursue Jesus in the midst of their surroundings and sentences.” ~ Matt
But as we have come to know a few of the inmates we worship with, we realize that, outside of the cross of Christ, the state of our heart is not any different than theirs. Inside of us all is the capacity for great evil, and the capacity to hurt others in life altering ways. We all need the Holy Spirit to be at work within us so that we can turn away from wickedness, and live to honor God. We are all on a journey towards living in the freedom of the grace of Jesus. And Jesus will judge rightly, our call is to LOVE. We grow in our understanding of what it means to love as we learn the depths of God’s grace to ALL sinners. So great is the love of God that we can find common ground with an inmate at Stony Mountain and stand together in prayer and praise to worship the Lord Jesus!
If you would like to hear more about the ministry at Stony Mountain Institution, or maybe even consider being a part of it with us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.