News for October 2019

Prison in the Bible

Gen 39:20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

This is the first verse in the Bible where the word “prison” is found. Oddly enough, Joseph here is a type of Christ, incarcerated in innocence. Within the penal system in America, history tells us that a hopefully small percentage of inmates are wrongly convicted. Some inmates have spent scores of years in prison, only later to be found not guilty of the crime(s) they were convicted of. Ohio resident Ricky Jackson, the longest-held US prisoner to be cleared of a crime, received more than 1 million dollars from the state for his wrongful imprisonment. Yet I must say that every Christian was held in a prison of his own making according to Proverbs 22:5.

 

October was a busy month for Linda and me. We attended the four day South Carolina Blitz where around 100 volunteers and Rock of Ages missionaries conducted revival meetings in eight prisons and one jail. 1531 inmates attended services with 218 hopefully receiving Christ as Savior. At the blitz, Linda and I were blessed to labor with 12 others at Columbia Care Center, a prison hospital, for lack of a better way to describe it. It is privately owned, and a large percentage of the “patients” are mentally challenged to one degree or another (I felt right at home there!). We had 259 patients attend our services with 20 men and women making profession of faith. We left there, and drove to Ashland, OH, and preached both services of a missions emphasis Sunday at one of our supporting churches. From there, we drove to Grand Blanc, MI, and spent two days with our son Jerry, and his wife, Kelly. We also got to see our great granddaughter, Sophia Rose Fulton, and her mom, Brittany. We then to Grass Lake, MI, and gave a report to another supporting church which concluded its missions conference that night. We left Michigan on Thursday morning, and I preached in a three day revival meeting at Bacon PDC, in south Georgia, beginning the next day. Eighteen men professed Christ there. From there, we were off to Mayo CI in Florida for a three day revival beginning on October 17th, with one conversion to Christ. Then beginning on October 22nd, Linda and I traveled to Live Oak, FL, for a three day revival at Century CI, with 3 men hopefully trusting Christ as Savior. As always, we would ask you to pray for these new converts, and for the already-saved inmates who received help during the meetings.  Thank you for co-laboring with us!

News for September 2019

Our Silent, Colorless World

Prov 20:12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

In reality, our world is completely silent and colorless. Sound originates in the brain. And sight originates in the brain as well. Color is perceived by light reflecting off the surface of objects. Equal amounts of red, green, and blue (RGB) light reflected off an object appear in our brain as a white object. When all RGB light is absorbed by an object, it appears in our brain as a black object. If an object absorbs all red and green light, the object is displayed in our brain as being blue. If an object absorbs all red and blue light, it appears to be a green object. When all green and blue light is absorbed, it appears to be red. In any case, objects have no color outside the brain. Sound is only sound in our brain. The components of sound (sound waves) are completely silent, and only generate sound in our brain. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound when it falls? No, it does not, because sound only originates in the brain. Sound waves (which are silent) are made of vibrating air, which are changed into vibrating ear drums, which are converted into vibrating bones, which are converted into vibrating skin membrane, which are converted into vibrating liquid in the inner ear, which cause tiny hairs in the cochlea to vibrate, which cause electrical signals to send a signal to the brain, which is interpreted as sound at a certain pitch.

Beloved, we are fearfully and wonderfully made! We have “hardware” receivers to receive color and sound in a colorless and silent world! Praise His holy Name! Do you ever take time to study some of the fascinating things God has designed and implemented in our bodies? Have you praised Him for them lately? Tim M., Keith J., and I had a good prison revival at ACI East in Sneads, FL, this month. It was by far the best attended revival we have held there! The format was a little different than most; at the chaplain’s request, we held Character Under Construction sessions each day in the Faith Dorm. The Faith Dorm is made up of inmates who apply to be housed there after they qualify. There a several different religions in that dorm, and each inmate must attend a “seminar” four times a year to remain in the dorm. Our revival services qualified as one of the seminars. The lessons taught in the Character Under Construction classes are on Power Point slides, but in this case, due to computer/projector issues, we had to teach without benefit of the slides. Of course, teaching the material offers lots of opportunity to slip in some preaching as well, and we saw two inmates trust the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior. My thought was that if I was called out for preaching, I could always say I don’t know the difference between preaching and teaching! We had several inmates who testified that they received much help from the three day “seminar.”

News from August 2019

Sowing and Reaping

Gal 6:6-8 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Richard P. and I held a three day revival at the Women’s Probation Detention Center in Claxton, Ga (the fruitcake capital of America). It was my first prison revival since my shoulder surgery, and all went well. The ladies were urged to earn a Rock of Ages study Bible by bringing out the most visitors to our closing meeting on Sunday night. Twenty-one ladies sowed some time and effort into bringing out a total of 72 first-time visitors that night. We were ecstatic when 10 of the 72 inmates made profession of faith in Christ! What a reaping! How would you feel if you sowed some time and effort into bringing a visitor to a service at your church, and that visitor made profession of faith? Sow a little time and effort, and reap an eternal soul. Twenty-one ladies signed up to attempt to earn a Bible, and all 21 ladies reaped one (Bible). Some of the 21 also reaped one or more eternal souls to their account because someone they invited came and was saved. God is good all the time!

I had a setback two days after my rotator cuff surgery. On August 1, Linda took me to the ER. I was experiencing shortness of breath to the point that I thought I was smothering. A CT scan revealed that I had thrown two Pulmonary Embolisms (blood clots) into my left lung, a very dangerous situation, but God spared my life, and I am back doing what I love to do, bless His holy Name! I will be on blood thinner medication for the rest of my earthly life since the doctors say I have naturally thick blood (and maybe a thick skull as well). Also, I’m doing physical therapy on my shoulder, and am starting to get much better range of motion, praise the Lord. I can now tie my own shoes, and my own ties! I’ll be in a sling for a total of ten weeks, but I’ll still be able to do my prison work.

I’m scheduled to be in the coastal city of Savannah, GA area on September  3rd, for a three day revival at Montgomery State Prison. That is the very day that Hurricane Dorian is supposed to hit Florida. Should it turn northward, we could be in for some trouble. We are praying that the meeting will not be hindered in any way.

News from July, 2019

The Glory Awaits

Rom 8:16-18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

At our sending church, just as our Tuesday night (July 23rd) revival meeting started, Bro. Vaughn, our first speaker of the night received word that his daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and two granddaughters were in a horrible car accident just 35 miles from their home in North Carolina. Around 45 minutes later, he was told that his two granddaughters had been killed. As I thought about it, Romans 8:28 came to mind. What a tremendous promise! Please do pray for the Vaughn family in this time of their grief.

We lost our three day revival meeting at ACI East, in Sneads, FL, this month. Just as we were arriving at the prison, we received word from the chaplain that the whole prison was in lock-down. Minutes before we arrived, an inmate had stabbed three officers. Thankfully, all three survived, but the sin of one man may have caused an unknown number of inmates to miss being saved. Only God knows.

Richard P. and I had many Divine Appointments in Leesburg, GA, at Lee County Jail, and Lee State Prison. We preached in eight dormitories at the jail, with 22 men calling on the Lord for salvation, and six men were hopefully saved at the prison during our three-day revival meeting there. The attendance grew each night, and the altars were filled each night with folks getting help from the preaching. Please do pray for these new converts!

On July 30th, I will be having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. The surgeon said I would be six weeks in recovery, wearing a sling during that time. I will try to do as much ministry as I can during that time, with the help of your prayers. Please pray for my rapid recovery!

News from June 2019

The same yesterday, and to day, and for ever

Acts 8:26-29 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

I stand convinced about the reality of Divine Appointments. The above passage is just one of many such appointments orchestrated by our Lord in the Bible. In v. 26 of our text, it is the “angel of the Lord” who sets Philip in motion, and in v. 29, it is the Spirit of God who zeros him in on the eunuch. So, this “appointment” was totally Divine in nature, the angel of the Lord being Jesus, and the Spirit being the Holy Spirit.

The Lord divinely commissioned us several times this month. One such “appointment” was at Emanuel Women’s Prison, in Swainsboro, GA, where Richard P., his wife Janna,  Linda (my wife) and I conducted a three-night revival meeting. The Lord moved each night in the services. Most of the inmates were excited about the preaching and testimonies, and the Lord gathered 32 ladies into His family, if their professions were genuine. The attendance grew each night, beginning with 65, and ending with 122. Along with the evangelistic messages, we delivered sermons focusing on spiritual growth for the ladies. Each service was two hours in length, so we preached six messages in total.

The Lord opened a door of opportunity also at Emanuel PDC in Twin City, GA. The warden spent the entire afternoon with us as we engaged inmates in their dorms. In all, 19 men made profession of faith in the six dorms we visited. Afterward, the warden assured us that we would be allowed access to the men in their dorms in our future revivals there. This will be in addition to our regular revival services in the evenings. What a Divine Appointment! Please do pray for these new converts!

News from May 2019

Acts 20:20 Vision

Acts 20:20-21 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Prov 5:21-22 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. 22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

I struggle to keep these two great truths before me regularly. Paul, by inspiration from God, teaches that practicing repentance and faith is profitable. It is profitable for me to practice it daily, and to teach others to do so as well as the Lord gives opportunity. Failure to implement Paul’s teaching here is to fail miserably in vision. I must learn to see like Paul saw, and you must do likewise, for Jesus is worthy of it. The Proverbs passage teaches us that God sees all lost men  as inmates; inmates in a prison of their own making; a prison house of iniquity which binds men unto their own devices. Our vision must be corrected to see like God sees. Let’s determine to see like God sees, and go after “inmates” wherever we find them. By your help, Linda and I go after inmates in brick-and-mortar prisons; be sure that you go after them from house to house (we do also). We are blessed to have you help us in this great matter. Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.

Please do pray for the Stinnett Ballew family. He left this world at around 5:30pm on Friday, May 31st after 50 years of faithful service to our Lord as pastor and evangelist. Only in heaven will we fully know the extent of his great ministry. God greatly used him in stirring up the saints for world evangelism. He was well known and loved for his preaching on faith promise giving for missions. He will be sorely missed. I’m better now, but I hurt my back this month, and missed the Emanuel PDC prison revival in Swainsboro, GA. However, God allowed me to participate in the Baldwin State Prison revival and the Century CI revival, with a total of seven men saved.

News from April 2019

The Contrast …

Jesus saw vastly different results to His ministry on different occasions. On one occasion, He could do no mighty works because of their unbelief. On other occasions, His ministry was received with open arms. We had vastly different results this month as we ministered in two different prisons in two different states this month.

Men’s prison in Florida Women’s prison in Georgia
Six services in a three day revival Three services in a three day revival
3 ROA missionaries and 1 volunteer each service 2 ROA missionaries for each service
Zero professions of faith 52 professions of faith
Same inmates year after year Fast turnover of inmates (maximum sentence 6 months

Most all of the inmates at the Florida revival were already professing Christians. No one made profession, but several of the saints testified that they received much help from the services, and there was a good spirit there. However, at the Women’s prison, there was a tremendous spirit of repentance there, and much eagerness to hear the Word of God. One lady testified to me that the church that regularly comes in to hold services talks about the same thing every week – human trafficking and drug use. She said it was so refreshing to hear preaching about Jesus!

On Tuesday, April 16th, at Haralson County Jail, one of the young inmates gave a wonderful testimony. He put his hand up while I was preaching, and I gave him permission to address the folks. I normally never stop my preaching, but I felt led to do so, because the young man had only been saved since our last meeting there. He said that he agreed totally with what I was preaching about at the time, and said it proved true in his own experience since he had been saved! It made me want to charge Hell with a squirt gun!

We had another glorious 4-day prison revival in Missouri, with around 20 hours of visitation, and eight preaching services. There were three Rock of Ages missionaries, and at least two volunteers working each day. We had a total of 190 men in the services, with two professions of faith. We, by the grace of God, led 45 men to Christ during visitation. Only God can do these things! Do pray for these brand new saints to grow in grace. Our Lord is worthy of their worship, praise, and service!

News from March 2019

Important Inmates …

Gen 39:20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

Well, here we have a high-class prisoner, indeed, being a wonderful type of Christ on so many fronts. Both Joseph and Jesus were imprisoned, and neither were guilty. There were certainly men who were imprisoned before Joseph, for the prison was already there awaiting him. However, Joseph is the first man whose incarceration is mentioned in the Bible, as far as I can see.

Tim, Matthew, Howard, and I conducted six services over three days in Jackson CI’s Main Unit, in Florida this month. We had a total of 397 men in the services with seven men making profession of faith in Christ. Jackson Ci forbids us to visit inmates in their dorms, so we conduct Character Under Construction classes in the mornings, instead. These are the same lessons that Rock of Ages missionaries use in the public schools, except we use much more Scripture while teaching them. On the final day, I was teaching on the subject of God, when an inmate raised his hand, and asked, “How can somebody know if he is saved or not?” What an open door! He then made profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, and that’s what it’s all about. Only later did I learn that he had been on the FBI’s most wanted list. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time – I might have had a heart attack!

We also held three evening services at Jackson CI’s Work Camp. There were two professions of faith, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night. The first convert sought out Tim afterward. He said he had been waiting a whole year to apologize to him for causing disruption in a service he had conducted! The second convert (that I had dealt with) was so glad he was saved, he told one of the officers (guards) that he had just been born again. While the officer was leaving the prison, she came over to us in the parking lot while we were preparing to leave, and shared with us what the inmate had said to her. She said, “We have a happy camper in there!” Wow. What a glorious privilege to be a co-laborer with God! Please do pray for these new converts. One final note: today is my 49th spiritual birthday!! We love you all, and pray for you regularly.

News from February 2019

Content …

Phil 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Our text contains the missionary Paul’s prayer letter sent to one of his supporting churches – the church at Philippi. Our brother, in v. 11, speaks of “want,” or lack. He is not “crying poor,” although in v. 10 he does mention their pause in financial support, but then commends them for resuming it. How sweet it is when churches lend financial support to their missionaries. This sent-love does not go unnoticed with our God, for He puts fruit to the account of such churches, v. 17. We notice that contentment can be had with or without adequate finances, bless His holy Name!

My car was packed, and I was five minutes into my trip to Florida to help in a two-day revival at Graceville Correctional when I received word that the revival had been canceled; the whole prison was on lock-down. But still content, that opened the door to conduct a service at Haralson County Jail, where Linda and I watched four lady inmates trust Christ as personal Savior. All of the ladies were touched as Linda gave her conversion testimony.

One could not help but be content as Rock of Ages conducted its annual Alabama Blitz in Montgomery, Alabama. With over 100 Rock of Ages missionaries (including Linda and I) and volunteers working in nine prisons and jails over a three day period, I report that there were 1682 men and women inmates who attended our services, with 192 souls making profession of faith in Christ as Savior. Only God can do these things, but He does it through His children who surrender their bodies to Him. I dealt with Bill who came forward at the invitation on the last night of the revival. After questioning him carefully about his willingness to repent and trust Christ, with tears in his eyes, on his knees, he began to pray, asking Christ to save him. He walked away content, and so did I.

News from January 2019

Both …

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The essence of this verse is that we are to be witnesses at home and abroad. “Both” at the same time. Of course, we labor “abroad” through support of our local church missions program.

Linda and I attended the annual Coordinator’s Meeting in Commerce, Georgia from January 7-11. These were long days: 8am ‘til 3:30pm with a break for lunch, followed by an evening service each night with two speakers, except we finished up on Friday after lunch. I’m not a prophet, nor the son of one, but I knew I was going to get sick, for lots of missionaries were hacking and sneezing. But, on the next day, I left for a three-day revival meeting in Snead, Florida at ACI, East. The meeting began on Sunday morning. After I preached, I started getting sick. By Sunday night, I was dragging myself around with severe body aches and dry cough. I was so sick on Monday morning, I packed up and went home, missing the last two days of the revival. By the next Sunday, I felt well enough to go our church. There is life after “Man Colds”! It was worth going to the Coordinator’s meeting – we experienced a wonderful time of refreshing and challenge from the Word of God. Linda and I left with new grit in our souls to win souls through Christ.

Locally, I ministered at Haralson Country Jail twice in January. Each night, we have four back-to-back preaching services. This month there were seven men and women who made profession of faith. In “Samaria” Linda and I participated in a four day revival in Pearl, Mississippi, at Central MS State Prison, with 63 men and women hopefully trusting Christ as Savior. We had a team of around 22 Rock of Ages missionaries and volunteers. We witnessed in the inmates’ dormitories, and held preaching services each day at three different locations in the prison. It was sweet working with this team, and we had great fellowship in between services. Only God can do these things, but without your faithful support we would be greatly hampered. Thank you for co-laboring with us!