A Prison Revival!
When Representative Charles Van Zant and his wife attended the Regional Conference in Big Sandy Texas this year they heard a powerful message by David Gibbs on How to Do the Impossible. After Representative Van Zant took office, God opened the door for him to be appointed as Vice Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and he has 144 prisons under his care. God laid a burden on them for the spiritual wellbeing of each of the inmates.
In July, Chaplain Bob Holyfield conducted a Basic Seminar in the Lowell Reception Center near Ocala Florida. Nearly 100 ladies attended with outstanding responses. As the ladies shared their testimonies with their cellmates, the impact spread in the prison and when a baptism service was offered the following week 150 ladies asked to be baptized.
On October 21, we began the first ever Prison Journey to the Heart for those who had gone through the Basic Seminar. Of the 70 ladies who remained in the facility, 62 of the ladies committed to go through the Journey. Trained staff from IBLP came from all over the US and even Mexico to share the love of Christ through leading a Journey to the Heart.
As the team proceeded through the seven 12-14 hour days, we saw God change lives. Sharing the true message of salvation several for the first time committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Almost night and day differences could be seen in their countenances and many of the officers even remarked at the difference.
A couple ladies seemed especially hard and distant, but after one of our staff shared a riveting testimony on the power of forgiveness, the walls came down and both of them in tears received Christ as their Savior. It was amazing to see hardened faces fraught with fears and toughened by bitterness, melt in the light of God’s love and blossom into ladies beaming with joy who were excited about their relationship with the Lord.
A beautiful spirit of one accord developed in the teams as each one surrendered their competing affections and committed to love God with all their heart soul, mind, and strength. One morning, one of the inmates came with an urgent request. A lady in her dorm had received news that her daughter had been missing for three days and police did not have much more they could do to find her. She asked if we could cry out for her to be found. We explained about the power of crying out and then led the whole group in prayer. That evening the ladies were ecstatic when we relayed that her daughter had been found.By the time Mr. Gothard arrived near the end of the Journey the ladies hearts were eager. The buzz of excitement spread and nearly a third of the entire prison population of 600 came out to see Mr. Gothard share a chalk talk illustrating the Gospel. The following day Mr. Gothard took time to address the ladies and answer many of the questions. He also did a second chalk talk. Realizing the difference in quality if we did not turn down the standard prison lights, we worked with the prison staff to find a way, but nothing we tried really worked well. Mr. Gothard finished the drawing and just as he stepped back and turned the first colored light on, the lights in the room miraculously turned off. Thus, when it was time to see the black light image, it reflected brilliantly. God answers prayer!