The men had all lined up to go back to their cells. Men had gotten baptized that morning in the Coffield Prison in Tennessee Colony, Texas. Largest prison in Texas with over 5,000 men in it. About 300 of them had come forward that morning for prayer and ministry. Their desire is to reach out to their fellow inmates. Some came for prayer. Some were broken-hearted about family issues back home, that they can do nothing about. Some needed to give their lives to Jesus, and came forward to do just that. I had just spoken on the real reason Jesus came to Earth – not to change our behavior (although that tends to happen when we walk with Him!), and not to make bad people good (although that tends to happen as well!)…but to give dead people life. That is what He Himself told us!
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10
My brother in ministry, Leonard, had given the altar call. Who’da thought that some white kid born into a house of poverty in a trailer house in Iowa and a black kid raised in inner city Cincinnati by his grandma would one day meet and become good friends, and then become co-laborers in ministry both at the large Texas high school where they worked and the prison where they frequented. God is awesome like that!
Anyway, the men who were baptized had all gotten their certificates of baptism as they lined up to return to their cells. I saw one man – in his late 50s – to the side with tears streaming down his face. I walked over to him as he was looking at his certificate of baptism. I asked him if everything was okay. They were tears of joy. He told me that he had NEVER been recognized for anything (positive) in his life – not at school, not at church, not on the job, not in his community, not by his mom or dad growing up – until today. He had just received a certificate of baptism. Not only was it recognition, but he viewed it as coming from God. God approved of him. It overwhelmed him, and he could hardly contain it. Late 50s. Prison.
On the 2 hour drive home I could not shake that experience. Leonard and I spoke about it. A verse came to my mind from Hebrews.
“Instead, continue to encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
I wondered if that man may have been steered from prison had homebody in his life found goodness in him, or helped him find what he was good at, and spoke into his life. I’ll bet so!
Then my mind wandered to those people God has placed into my life. Last time I looked at a calendar, today was still called “Today,” and scripture is quite clear! As long as it is called “Today,” I am to be an encourager. Kids need it! Adults need it! People who work under you need it! Perfect strangers need it.
Today, my challenge to you is simple: find somebody to encourage, and tell them how you see God in them, or tell them how something they did really blessed you, or tell them that you just appreciate them and are thankful they are in your life. I have this folder in a drawer that is full of cards of appreciation or thanks that people have given me over the years. I read them when I need to be reminded from time to time that I am appreciated. But I have found that I am not alone in this! I know everybody has the same need. The world has a way of wearing us down. God wants us to build each other up!
You may commence to encouragin’!