Recently my name was brought up to preach at Tomoka Correctional state prison in Daytona Beach. While I hesitated, I thought to myself that I should jump on the opportunity to help those in need.
We all know that in prison you have no freedom; you're told when to get up, when to eat, when to shower, when to go to sleep, and in between all those things, you are told what to do and where on the grounds to work.
The inmates do have some social time after dinner, and many of them have bible study groups.
When I got there, I didn't know what to expect; but to my surprise when I showed up at their small chapel. To my surprise, it was filled with over 200 inmates, some of them hardened criminals doing time for murder.
If there is one thing about being in prison, it's miserable, which is a perfect state of the heart for the gospel.
They began worship, and it lasted for over 45 minutes, singing freely to the Lord in thanksgiving; I thought to myself, "what are they thankful for?"
So, when I went up to preach, I wasn't sure how they would react.
Again, to my surprise I never preached to such a hungry and receptive crowd. I truly believe that I was blessed more than the recipients.
I went on to preach for over 1 hour and could have gone longer if they hadn't been called back to their cells. After service, I had about 25 men come up to me in tears, thanking me for coming to them and sharing the gospel. I prayed with many for their struggles in prison, shared my testimony with some who needed to hear it, and told them all that God loves them and has a plan for them, even in prison.
Knowing that many will never get out, they were convinced of their eternal home; this is what gets them through their trials here on earth. I was asked to come back every 3 months in which I said, "absolutely!"