Prayer Letter July 2018

Working Together for Good …

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

This truth cannot be fully known with human intellect. The natural man would laugh at such a premise. We must launch out into the deep with our God-given faith to receive the above truth. I cannot explain how it works, but I know it works. Period. The “good” produced is toward the believer AND God, The “good” produced is that the believer is conformed into the image of Christ, and God is glorified. Jesus deserves that from us, and any hardship put upon us by the Lord is worth enduring that we might be pressed into Christ’s image.

This past month has given Linda and I many “things,” some good, some bad, but we know that things good or bad are working to conform us to the image of Christ. On the good side, our sending church, White Oak Springs Baptist Church, in Dallas, GA, held our annual summer Jubilee revival meetings. The Lord greatly blessed, and the saints were challenged and edified. In all, there were around 29 messages preached from Sunday morning through Friday night. If you would like to listen to any or all of those sermons, visit our website (wosbc.com).

On the bad side of things (which we know will work together for good), Linda continues to experience daily weakness and nausea, along with chronic sinus infection. She is scheduled for further tests in August, so please do pray that the Lord will heal her, either by doctors or by His healing touch.

Richard P. and I were in Rutledge State Prison in Georgia this month for a three-day revival meeting. This was our first time at this prison. We were pleasantly surprised when 71 inmates came to the first night’s service. Several inmates entered into a contest to see who could bring the most visitors to the last two night’s services. Six men worked hard, and each one earned a Rock of Ages study Bible. The attendance grew each night, with 114 inmates at the last service. A total of 23 men made profession of faith. Prayers for them would be appreciated.

Prayer letter June 2018

Fishers of Men …

Mark 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

Matt 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

 

These verses are deeply convicting. Both deal with God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10), making His followers to be fishers of men. The teaching is razor sharp in its implication: if you follow me (Jesus), I will make you to be fishers of men, and if you come after me (Jesus). I will make you to become fishers of men. Fishers of men fish! They don’t just talk about fishing; they fish. A fisherman is identified by his craft. When someone thinks of a fisherman, he thinks of one who fishes, regularly. The sting of these verses is that if I’m not regularly fishing for men, I’m not a follower of Jesus. If I’m not a fisher of men, I’m not going after Jesus. Fishing for men is quite different than fishing for fish. When men fish for fish, their intent is to kill them; we fish for men to give them life. Men catch fish by deceit; we catch men with the Truth. Are you going after Jesus? Are you following Him?

We fish for inmates in three different types of “fishing holes”: prisons, probation detention centers, and county jails. We see much better results (conversions to Christ) in probation detention centers and jails, generally. The reason is that PDCs and jails have a much higher inmate turn-over rate than prisons. Most PDCs in Georgia have a maximum sentence of 9 months, so we see many new-to-us inmates each time we go. Jails are known for short inmate stays (weeks or months). While we don’t neglect the prisons, we certainly are thankful for the other fishing holes that God has provided.

Our fishing at Haralson County Jail this month brought in a catch of 24 men and women for our Lord Jesus. We regularly see fresh faces there, thank God, and many of them are open to the Gospel. We landed a precious catch of men, 12 in all, at Georgia State Prison, in Reidsville, GA. We don’t believe in catch-n-release, so we had 32 precious ladies gained for our Lord at the Women’s Probation Detention Center, in Claxton, GA. Would you pray that these souls will grow in Christ, and stick with Him?

Prayer letter May 2018

Do All Things …

Phil 2:13-14 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Notice the tension in thought in these two verses: 1) v. 14 … without murmurings and disputings, 2) v. 13 … his good pleasure. These bad reactions can arise from “doing” God’s will. Some things that God wills for us are not, on the surface, all that pleasurable to our natural way of thinking. It would do us well to take pleasure in God’s will and to resist our innate tendency to murmur and dispute against it. By faith, take heart that if God wills it, He takes good pleasure in us doing it. What could possibly be more beneficial for you than doing “… of his good pleasure”!

We know that it is always God’s good pleasure for sinners to “… come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). I have found a good “ice-breaker” to employ with someone I want to witness to. Simple, yet effective. Say this as you approach the person: “Amos 4:12, in the Bible, says this: ‘… prepare to meet thy God.’ Is there some way I could help you prepare to meet Him?” Even if your “divine appointment” isn’t interested, you have planted the seed of God’s Word in his heart! Who knows how God will use that encounter in days to come? It could become the catalyst that drives him to his knees one day!

We had revival and visitation meetings in Smith State Prison and Rogers State Prison that were greatly blessed by the Lord. We saw 31 men hopefully repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him into their spirits. In one particular encounter, I was dealing with an inmate at his cell door. After twenty minutes or so, we knelt and he repented of his sin, and called on the Lord Jesus Christ to save him. I then gave him some tracts and booklets to help him get a good start in his Christian life. As I looked through the little window in his cell door, I noticed another inmate. I asked him if he was saved, and he said, “Yes. I just got saved!” That’s enough to make the dead smile! A lady inmate received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior at the Haralson County Jail after I preached and gave the invitation. Her response was priceless to me. She said that she had several times made profession of faith in Christ, but it was not until this night that I really understood the Gospel in its fullness. She said, “Thank you for making it so clear!” Little did she know, but it wasn’t me, but the Holy Spirit was is in me! We also had 6 men and 1 dear lady saved at Evans County Jail, in Claxton, GA. Please pray for these new converts.

Prayer Letter April 2018

Divine Appointment …

Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went:

Any Divine Appointment begins with “Arise.” My old Christian colleague, Bro. John R., when calling me would usually begin by saying, “If you asked the Lord what He’d have you to do, He’d say, “Get out of bed.” Are you willing to arise when God says “Arise” even before you know for what reason? Or does your obedience depend on the reason for arising? In this case, God’s Divine Appointment would be in the desert. God made sure Philip knew this wouldn’t be easy. Most often God’s Divine Appointments take us out of our comfort zone. Are you willing to arise even so?

One of my Divine Appointments was in the desert call Eastern Region Diagnostic and Detention Center in Farmington, Missouri this month. Our Rock of Ages team was in the “10 House,” going from cell-to-cell soul-winning (“He that winneth souls is wise”). The cells in this unit are “open” in that there are 6-8 men in a cell, but no door for the cell. There is a red line on the floor over which we could not cross. I was witnessing with the Holy Spirit to 3 of the men at the far end of the unit. One of these men was already saved. When I extended the invitation to be saved, both of the other men hopefully trusted the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. Of course, there were other inmates within ear-shot who heard me preaching to these men. Around 30 minutes later, our Regional Director David R. approached me. “I’m in trouble now,” I thought. He said that he was just down in the area where those two men called on the Lord, and asked a man whom I hadn’t even know if he had ever been saved. He replied that he was saved. David asked him, “When?” He replied, “When that bald headed fellow was praying with those two inmates. Sometimes it pays to have a big mouth! I suppose we might call that fruit from sowing by the wayside?

If you would, please pray for my dear wife, Linda. She is diabetic, and has been experiencing dizziness and high blood sugar, mainly early in the mornings. She became really concerned about it after two mornings, and called me home from Mt Vernon, GA, where we were to begin a 3-day revival at Montgomery State Prison. I took her to the emergency room. After a CT scan, they discovered that she has a bad sinus infection which could impact her inner ear, causing the dizziness and the high blood sugar. She is now on anti-biotics to stop the infection. She has been doing better, but her blood sugar count is still too high.

Prayer Letter March 2018

Flashlights With God …

Isa 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

When penned by Isaiah, he probably did not fathom the depth of it. In John 1:9, we are told that Jesus (“the true Light”) lights every man that cometh into the world. And so it was with us. Jesus “lit us up” to expose the despicable nature of our sin. Did Isaiah know that he was prophesying about Jesus, the Light of the world? And then, what about those “that dwell in the land of the shadow of death?” That certainly describes the inmates we deal with, does it not? Nobody is more in the shadow of death than they! We need to be flashlights with God (not for God, but with God). He is the Light, we are the body through whom He shines. No more is this needed than in our county jails. Bro. Richard P. and I were in a county jail this month. We preached to 8 dormitories of men “out in the yard” in two different services. In each service, during the invitation, there were men on their knees calling out to The Light to be saved. Flashlights with God. That’s what we want to be. After speaking with some of the men, it was obvious that no preachers had been in that jail for over 6 months. To me, that is a crying shame when there are so many Baptist churches in the area. Perhaps your church could begin a jail ministry in your county jail. Be flashlights with God!

Bro. P. and I were at the Women’s Probation Detention Center in Claxton, Ga, this month. On the first night of the revival there, after I preached, an inmate asked me when we were at a certain county jail. I told her that it was actually just 24 hours before. She said that she had been praying with Linda (my wife) that night that her fiancé would be saved, and that he was in that jail. I asked for his name. She replied, “Kevin.” Well, 2 of the men that I led to Christ were named Kevin. I asked for his last name. She said, “Smith.” I pulled out the results card for that jail, and sure enough, Kevin Smith had made profession of faith the day before! What are the chances of that happening? Bro. Eddie Gordon, former Rock of Ages missionary, has a saying that covers it – “That’s not odd; that’s God!”

I sure do appreciate my wife travelling with me for meetings at the women’s facilities. She is a seasoned witness with Christ, and is able to deal effectively with the ladies at our services during the invitations and times of fellowship following. Also, when she is traveling with me, I can find my socks!

Please do pray for those who were newly born into God’s family, and for me that  I, the flashlight, will keep allowing The Light to shine through me to light up the inmates.

Prayer letter February 2018

Alabama Blitz …

Ps 102:18-20 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. 19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; 20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;

Our passage this month is prophetic, “… for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.” Surely this has come to pass, even in our generation, even this month, and you, our supporting churches and prayer warriors have had in part in making it happen. Notice, our God hears “… the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.” Thank you for “listening in” with the LORD to hear the spiritual cries of the inmates. When you hear them with God, you will never be the same.

We traveled to Wetumpka, AL, from the southeast, and as far as Concord, NH, for the Alabama Blitz, and the Lord God of Glory was pleased with us. In all, there were around 105 Rock of Ages missionaries and volunteers this year. We met on Monday night, and by Thursday evening, we held cell-to-cell visitation and conducted preaching services in 9 Alabama state prisons, 1 federal prison, and 1 jail. The total number of inmates attending services was 1,823, with a total of 231 professions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, there were 30 homeless people contacted with 10 making profession of faith. As extracurricular activity, there were 3 saved at McDonalds, and 1 more saved at Wendys. Last, but not least, the Lord saved 1 prison officer.

One incident that moved me greatly happened at Elmore County Jail. Our coordinator, two volunteers from New Hampshire, and I went into a dorm on Thursday. There were 4 inmates seated at a table playing cards. Our intention was to have a preaching service, but the card players didn’t even acknowledge our presence. In an attempt to shame them into quitting the cards for a while, I told them that 2 of our group had traveled all the way from NH to visit them. “Knowing that, men, would you like to have a preaching service or play cards?” The “dealer” of the cards didn’t even look up at me, but replied, “We want to play cards.” Well, the inmate on his left (Antonio) gave him the “I can’t believe you just said that” look! We began milling around the several other inmates, when Antonio came to us to talk. We sat down with him, and began dealing with him about being saved. After 30 minutes or so, he responded to God’s invitation, and hopefully received the Lord Jesus in accordance with John 1:12. I believe God used the callousness of the “dealer” to touch his heart for Christ.

Please do pray for those who were newly born into God’s family, and for me that  I’ll keep listening in with God to hear the cries of the inmates.

Prayer letter January 2018

Free in Prison …

John 8:34-36 (KJV) 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Any normal man would desire to be free. Jesus makes men free, even “free indeed.” Notice that a man is passive in the process; he is made free by the Lord Jesus. O that we would strive to trust Christ for the freedom only He can give! The context of this passage is clear; the freedom given by Christ is not freedom To sin, but freedom FROM sin. The 34th verse speaks of the man who is servant to sin. By God’s power that man is converted from servant to son, and the son is then free (no longer dominated by Sin) to serve His new Master. This is our purpose in prison ministry. Our desire is to see the inmate, who is servant to Sin be converted to God’s son, and thus made free indeed FROM Sin.

One of our three prison revivals this month is worthy of special note. Richard P. and I conducted it at Dougherty County Jail in Albany, GA. This is a huge county jail which is home to around 750 inmates. Over the three days, we conducted over 16 hours of visitation and services. Each pod of inmates has two levels of cells in v-shaped buildings. The inmates on each of the two levels are allowed out of their cells for 6 hours a day broken up into three two-hour segments. During that time, they are allowed free access to the large open area in the pod. Each pod has a small conference room for conducting services. When we enter a pod, if any of the inmates are in the open area, we must immediately go into the conference room, and hope and pray some of the men would come into a preaching service. IF none of the men were in the open area, we were allowed to go from cell-to-cell to speak directly to the inmates. In that case, we are never allowed to go into their cells. We speak to them through a small window in the cell door. After the revival meeting was over, there were a total of 58 men who called on the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. These are professions of faith. Only God and the inmates know if they were sincere, if they were real. I am always very careful to take the necessary time to explain the Gospel and what it takes to be sincere. As many as were sincere, are now made free indeed by our lovely Lord Jesus. Will you join us in praying for these who made profession of faith? We also witnessed 7 professions of faith at Haralson County Jail in Georgia, and 5 professions of faith at Apaloosa Correctional Institution in Florida. Only God can do these things.

Linda and I spent Monday through Thursday, January 8-11, at the annual Rock of Ages Coordinator’s meeting in Commerce, GA. It was a refreshing time of good preaching, teaching, and fellowship. We were thoroughly challenged to reach more inmates in 2018 than ever before.

Prayer letter December 2017

Happy New Year …

John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

This is the first usage of the word “happy” in the New Testament. We see that happiness is connected with obedience: doing “these things.” Happiness here means “blessed.” This blessing from God for obedience is imposed by God Himself. It is imposed upon the doer without respect of his motive. Nor does it depend on the doer’s emotional response. He is blessed even in spite of his lack of it. Note that saying, “Happy New Year” to someone is a short prayer. It is saying, “I’m asking God that you might have a blessed new year.” So, Happy New Year, saints of God!

The Georgia Rock of Ages team conducted 7 prison revivals in December with a total of 43 inmates making profession of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Our obedience to God’s Great Commission has blessed us this past year without a doubt. Here is a summary of statistics for the Georgia team in 2017:

We worked in 18 state prisons and 13 county jails. We conducted 82 hours of visitation. We held 182 services with 5760 in attendance. A total of 861 inmates and officers made profession of faith in Christ as Savior. Happy cannot describe it!

Let me tell you about G., a young inmate we had a Divine Appointment with in Evans County Jail this month. The jail is very small; 12 inmates was all (that rhymed didn’t it?). We began our meeting at 2pm in the common area of the dormitory. G. was in his bunk with his back turned toward us with his blanket made into a cocoon. He stayed that way while Richard P. and Eric P. preached. Sometime while I was preaching, G. got up and joined the group. I didn’t even see when he came in. When we gave the invitation, no one responded. As we were getting ready to leave, I asked G., “Have you been saved or do you need to be?” He said that he needed to be. So I had the privilege of leading him to Christ. Afterward, he confessed that he had been listening the whole time, even while he was in bed! We had a wonderful time sharing Scripture with him, and he seemed eager to learn. Was he blessed? I think so. Were we blessed? I know so. Were our supporting churches blessed? Phil. 4:17 says so. Happy New Year.

Prayer letter November 2017

1st Advent …

Luke 2:7 (KJV) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Our Lord Jesus was Mary’s firstborn, because Jesus was born of a virgin. He was fittingly born in a sheep barn, for He was The Lamb of God.  In His first Advent, He came as The Lamb; at His second, as The Lion. His first, to be judged; His second, to judge. He came to take away sins, for no other sacrifice was sufficient to do so. Linda and I want to wish a very blessed Christmas season to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We love you all very much.

Linda and I were happy to break away for two nights and three days respite with some of our sending church family in Pigeon Forge, TN. It was quite a relaxing, low key getaway. We ate way too much, but the fellowship was wonderful. We had several good opportunities to speak to sinners and saints who were unknown to us, but known by our God. What a joy it is to represent our Lord and you wherever we go!

On the last Tuesday of the month, I preached 3 services at Haralson County Jail. There were 3 inmates that made profession of faith in Christ as Savior, one lady, and two men. When I was musing about the services on the way home, it dawned on me that the two men who hopefully were converted were the name sakes of two of our grandsons – Josh and Zach. I took it from that God was reassuring us that He would be answering years of prayer for our children and grandchildren. Linda and I are still standing on God’s sure promise in Isaiah: Isa 44:3 (KJV) “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” God promises an outpouring first on parents, and then on their offspring. He has fulfilled that promise toward Linda and I, and we wait patiently for the outpouring on our children and grandchildren.

Our Rock of Ages team experienced divine appointments at two prisons (Smith State Prison and Rogers State Prison), and one probation detention center (Bacon PDC) this month. We were scheduled to have 3 days of visitation at each, but we were not able to have visitation at all at Smith State Prison. We did conduct 9 preaching services in all, with God making Himself known in each one. In total, there were 11 men saved at Smith, 7 men at Rogers, and 29 men at Bacon. It’s sometimes more fruitful at PDC camps (like Bacon) because there is a much higher inmate turnover. The maximum sentence for a probation detention center inmate is 6 months. These new converts are urged by us to begin Bible lessons through Rock of Ages’ Prisoner’s Bible Institute discipleship program. Please pray for their growth in grace. Maranatha!

Prayer letter October 2017

Living Water …

Rev 22:17 (KJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

In the physical realm, man cannot survive without water; in the spiritual world, man cannot survive without Jesus, who is “the water of life.” One must “come” to Him for life or perish. The verse imposes no limit on how often the believer may drink of Him, so drink often, child of God! To “come … take the water of life” is a metaphor for faith, and faith is putting dependence upon Christ. Notice it is the “Spirit and the bride that say, Come.” Are you part of the bride of Christ? Are you co-laboring with Him in the great Invitation?

Bro. P. and I held a 3-day revival meeting at Smith Women’s Probation Detention Center, in Claxton, GA this month. On the first night, when we arrived, there were some 30 chairs put out for the ladies. When the meeting started, there were 109 lady inmates that showed up! The next night, there were 120 inmates in the service, and on the final night, they ran out of chairs, and 20 or so ladies had to sit on the floor. Every night the altar was jam packed, and the presence of God was palpable. In all, 96 ladies got right with the Lord, confessing sins, and dedicating themselves to Christ for service.

Linda and I were part of the Mississippi Blitz at Central MS Correction Facility, in Pearl, MS this month. In all, there were 16 Rock of Ages missionaries and volunteers. We conducted 8 services over 4 nights with 505 inmates attending. We did 10.5 hours of visitation in the dormitories and in lock-down areas. There were a total of 55 men and women who made profession of faith in Christ during the revival. Many of these signed up for the 71 course PBI (Prisoner’s Bible Institute) program through Rock of Ages Ministries. This is part of our discipleship ministry for inmates. It is designed to help them grow in grace following their conversion to Christ. Linda was so blessed to be in this revival. She was able to speak to L. on death row on the final day. L. has been on death row for over 12 years. Someone led her to Christ 2 years ago. She faithfully reads her Bible, has a close relationship with the Lord, and demonstrates a sweet spirit. Please pray for dying grace for her.

Thank you for enabling us financially to dedicate ourselves to this glorious ministry. We are blessed to represent you. Even though you may not be able to go, we can go for you, and add precious souls to your account!