Thursday, July 17, 2008

James at LA

I am Bible Study Instructor for Crossroad Bible Institute http://www.crossroadbible.org/ . This organization provides many levels of study for those in prison. It is solely a correspondence ministry and very safe as everything goes through the Institute. Thankfully, lots of rules. This organization loves God and His people!

This morning I reviewed a new student's lesson. This student is newly enrolled in what is called Tier 1. I receive two Tier 1 lessons every week. This is a student who is most likely new to God in his/her life and new to the Bible Study. So, I always get excited to receive a Lesson 2! I have the blessing of welcoming the student to CBI and encouraging them in their decision to study the Bible. I will never "hear" from the Tier 1 student again, meaning this is the only lesson I will get from them. I am always challenged to do my best to mentor and encourage Tier 1 students because it is my one and only contact with them.

James from a detention center in LA's lesson appeared before me. His handwriting made me smile as it resembled a child's scrawl. However, the content was anything but childish. Yes, the tone was pure and resembled an obedient child, a dependent child looking to do things right this time. But the depth and understanding of a personal God did not escape me as I read through his essays. And very soon into his lesson the realization that he wanted to live solely for God jumped off each page. I enjoyed my sweet time of fellowship with James.

The prayer request page is always the last page the Instructor reviews. This time, I was surprised by the instantaneous waterworks effect John's prayer request had on me. Yes, I am often moved by a student's prayer request. Often moved to tears and often, joyously celebrating their committments to wanting to live for God. But James's prayer request caught me off guard because my emotions hit the deck like a lead sinker! I was balling like a kid. My heart broke for him as I grieved with sadness and joy because his faith in prayer was so evident.

Here it is and I quote, "Pray for my family and frinds and there enemy's. And pray that God makes me an up right man. An man of GOD I relly want to be a man of GOD. I wount to know the Bible I do. Thank YOU ;) I love you And pray that my grandmother stay in good health. And my mother Sugar stay down. And her husband too. And one day I can see my kids. I have not seen my little girl in 5 years and I have not seen my sun in about 12 or 13 year's They have not seen each other befor I won't to dring them together to see one another when I get out that is why I have to get right for them and for me."

Oh bless his heart!!! James scored 100% on his lesson. He nailed the "roadmap" which is a daily devotion in which he looks up and reads three theme verses and then practices personal application, which is explaining how that day's teaching can make a difference in his life. I am sure I don't need to tell you I did some damage to the Kleenex box this morning.

James is special. However, he is not alone. Every week, every month and every year for over five years, I have had the priviledge of spending time with people I would never get to meet face to face. I am often amazed that they trust a stranger with their daily struggles. I am so grateful. For I so relate as often their struggles are not much different than my own. They miss loved ones, they reach out to others and get no response, they made mistakes and were punished, they ask for forgiveness from a big God and receive it, they cry salty tears and bleed red blood. They realize the need for fellowship in the Body of Christ. I am so not much different than they and I get so much more from them than I feel I give. The blessing is all mine and I love this ministry! The tears are all good and I am so grateful....

Thank you James at Riverbend for your prayer request and willingness to truly change. Thank you for trusting me with your prayer request. For encouraging me to knock on the throne room door on your behalf. Thank you for the knowledge that I touched the very heart of God. I prayed for your little girl and "sun" to meet for the very first time - for your kids to get the chance to stand with their daddy. A godly daddy who has a big heart for God and for forgiveness. A daddy who believes in second chances and prayer.
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