Last week I was honored to attend my first graduation ceremony through the IFI program at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. I’ve been serving in some capacity there for a few years. The IFI (Innerchange Freedom Initiative) is an affiliate of Prison Fellowship, designed to help inmates who are seeking a change, through the power and love of Christ. It is voluntary, open to anyone who is interested. Just as the Gospel is.
I have to tell you, seeing a room full of men singing praises to God, who a year or so earlier would never have dreamed of using the word “god” in any other way than a cuss word, is – well, a MIRACLE. I’ve been blessed to witness this multiple times. God is so good…
Last week, I got to hear a story of a young man who is now on fire for the Lord. He has around 90 days left in his stay, then physical freedom. He also has COMPLETE freedom, in Christ.
This young man lived a very rough life. He did not grow up in a church family, or a religious family. His “religion” was drugs and violence. His mom was an addict, his father a hostile, violent man – and that was when he was around.
This young man first smoked crack at 10 years old. TEN YEARS OLD! Drugs and violence were all he knew. His entire family was addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. His mother sold her body to support her habit – and he had to get into selling drugs to try and support his.
He entered into prison at seventeen…
I did not catch how old he is now, or I cannot recall (I’m getting old…). But he’s spent some time in prison. A year ago, he got the opportunity to enter the IFI program. He was an unbeliever, and honestly thought believers were “foolish”, “naive”, “crazy”. But he saw this as an opportunity to get into medium security. So he took it.
He described it this way:
- The first three months we just went with the program, so he could come to and stay at Lino Lakes
- The next thee months he thought, “I should try and apply what the Bible says to my life, so I can better it”. That pretty much describes his relationship with God at the time. Religious, trying to “gain favor”, or “improve self”
- But around six months in – Jesus met him face to face. This young man fell in love with his Lord and Savior. He never looked back…
- Over the course of six months, members of his family – including his mother – have accepted Christ, and through their salvation have themselves become sober! A handful of miracles, all because Jesus met this young man in prison! Woah…
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20)
And this was just one man’s story!
I left Lino Lakes that night last week, overjoyed, thrilled, excited, that I got to hear of and witness so many lives transformed. Not just the men – but their families as well! You want to see a miracle? Go talk to one of these young men, you will see one with your own eyes.
God is so good….