I still remember as a volunteer, the first time I was assigned to Suicide Watch at the county jail. SW is where inmates are held the first 72 hours after their arrest. Many are hung-over from drugs/alcohol and are often angry, frightened or depressed over their situation.
That evening I spent 1.5 hours with two desperate, despondent men. Both wept. Both wanted to tell me their sad stories. I listened. When they finished, they became quiet and looked at me expectantly.
I explained that often God allows difficult situations in our lives to cause us to recognize our need for Him. “It may have taken incarceration to get your attention. But He loves both of you and He wants to be your Savior. He wants to help you turn your lives around. You cannot do it alone. You need to turn to Jesus and let Him change you.”
Both men chose to surrender their lives to Jesus that night. Their desperation and their tears ceased. They began smiling. They realized there was hope and their peace was real.
We prayed for their wives and children. I enrolled them in the chaplain’s Bible study. I encouraged the two of them to become prayer partners while incarcerated, praying daily together for each other. I even showed them how to pray through the Psalms. That is, reading two verses and then praying them back to God in their own words. Then going on to the next two verses. We tried it together and they seemed willing to give it a go. I suggested churches in their area for when they are released, plus other useful information. They were both convinced that the Lord brought them to jail for this very purpose.
When I stood to leave, one of them said, “Thank you. I will remember you as long as I live.”
I said, “You probably will! After all, this is the most important day of your life—for all eternity. I still remember the woman who led me to Jesus. I will never forget her. But you know what? Other people are going to remember you in the same way—when you tell them about Jesus.”
- This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4
- For he himself is our peace… Ephesians 2:14
- SONG: Martha – Lyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; music by Kathleen