Things felt agitated at the prison this week. There seemed to be an undercurrent of a fight brewing. Eliel felt apprehensive but we carried on as usual. Seven of the guys completed the three-column bible studies.
1) Copy the text out from the bible onto a page.
2) Re-write the story in your own words.
3) Write down what you are going to change in your life because of the story.
They handed us a thick stack of papers that were fully hand-written, all complete pages, of these studies they have done while I was travelling.
It is a miserable existance for the 25 guys in that clammy, sweaty, damp cell but they told me again that if they go to the bigger cell they will get killed. They are accused of crimes the other prisoners don’t accept. Either that, or they are not in factions. If they refuse to join factions, they are vulnerable. If they join, it is kind of a life-time commitment from what I understand. The men get coffee in the morning, and they let me try some. It is horrible. It doesn’t taste like coffee, and they say it is full of medicine to keep them calm. It tastes like bad medicine, and the bad aftertaste lasted the whole time I was there. Disgusting. And when they describe the food they start with “may God forgive me but . . . ” They don’t want to be ungrateful, but it is the same food, cooked the same way, year in and year out. It can feel nauseating. One guy told me, “I used to weigh 110 kilos. Now I am down to 57. One year and 4 months. Look how I can lift my foot up above my other knee. I could never do that before.” I asked him if he planned to keep the weight off. “Oh no. When I get out, in two weeks I’ll be right back to where I was.” I really hope these guys can get in touch with God in a way that really catches their passions so that when they get out it affects their behavior. We need transformations.
We formed two smaller groups, and about 12 of the 25 guys participated. One guy, Cesar, confided in me with our group listening. “Most people believe in God, they just don’t believe that He cares about our daily activities or prayers. They don’t think He interacts personally with us.”
This is a good spiritual observation, and I wonder if Cesar is a Person of Peace.
He hit the nail on the head. He defined a our work. We need to set up situations where interested people can connect with God in a way that feels true to them, where they sense God connecting back.
Think about it. Who wants to sign up for a religious system just because your friends are doing this, or because it is a healthy lifestyle, or out of desperation? But we long for what is real and true.
If there was a clear and easy difference between praying to God and praying to an idol, how would idol worship prosper in the old days? How would good luck charms, witchcraft, the love of money, and false religions prosper today?
On that day of judgment they will abandon the gold and silver idols they made for themselves to worship. They will leave their gods to the rodents and bats (Isaiah 2:20).
What these prisoners need is to truly sense an interaction with a living God who cares and who wants relationship.
Prayer is really important.
All the people we talked to who are having success with Discovery Groups say that prayer is really important. We need God’s Kingdom to break into our normal zones.
Please pray that the Kingdom of God will break into this jail cell in Marabá, in power.
Pray for Cesar. And for Wolverine. And António Marcos, Rodrigo, and João. These guys are from all over Brazil. They have the potential to bring the gospel to some dark places. Let’s pray they really sense God’s presence this week.
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