Hey both of you who still check on this blog! Sorry for not writing more but I have been a bit overwhelmed with work and life. I have my two girls back from Boarding School this last week and they will be with us until the end of January. Yeah!
So, for today I have two prison stories for you. I have not discussed our prison work yet which is a shame. We started a local NGO (NGO stands for Non-Governmental Organization) for prison ministry about six years ago now. We had the idea for sometime but needed a director. Eventually the King brought Balin to us. Balin is a madman. He was saved up in the northern reaches of the country and was so excited he went straight home to his village and told everyone. His parents and the other villagers threw him out of town. He came down to Minas Tirith and that is where I met him. He got real excited about prison ministry and called the NGO Love to Prisoners. He meets everyone Jesus first. He shares Jesus as a part of every conversation. He is a rabid evangelist and more than a little charismatic. But here is the weird thing. The prison director and the guards of all the prisons we work in LOVE him. They think he is great. I don't know why. Except that he is annointed by the King to do this work.
Three winters ago it was very cold. Most of our humanitarian work in the prisons happens in the sick ward of Prison number one. There are as many as 120 prisoners in the sick ward at any one time. They usually go there to die. Many die of TB others of pnumonia or various other illnesses. Balin prays for them all. He prays for their healing and their salvation. He sees results regularly. Anyway, back to three winters ago. He led many people to faith that winter. I think around thirty. Almost all of them died. He was very discouraged. One day as he was pouring his heart out to the King and weeping over the fact that nearly everyone who came to faith would die soon after of the illnesses they had the King spoke to him. He said, "Balin! What are complaining about?" Balin replied that all his disciples were dying. The King said, "I am using you to snatch these men from the jaws of Hell. Stop complaining!" When he told me this his face was shining. God was using him. It was enough.
Later Balin went back into the sick ward and prayed for two men. One listened to his testimony about Jesus and the other rebuked him and said that it was wrong for him to listen and it was wrong for Balin to be doing what he was doing. Balin prayed for them both. The next day he went back into the prison. The prisoner who had listened to him had died. The other prisoner was completely healed. When Balin heard this he was sure that he would get an earful about how this proved that Jesus was not the way. Balin was surprised. The healed prisoner apologized for not believing him. He gave testimony to how the other man died in peace and that he wanted the same peace he had had. Balin led that man to faith and he became a great witness in that prison.
Balin worked with a small team for a time but has always had trouble keeping anyone for long. He says that the spiritual atmosphere in the prison is harsh and most people can't handle it for long. One day one of his helpers went into the prison to disciple four men who had made professions of faith. He reported that they were in serious discussion when he came into the room. They were discussing the fact that all four of them were seriously ill and would likely die soon. What were they going to do to help their fellow prisoners find the truth before they died? How could they disciple some one who would get well and get out of prison some day and become a witness to their people in their country? They prayed a long time about this that day. I know that they are all dead now. I do not know what seeds they were able to sow in the hearts of any of their fellow inmates. I do know that they sowed seed in my heart that day.