Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died in 2008. Maybe not enough people knew about his fight for freedom in Russia. He publicly disagreed with the Communist regime and was jailed or exiled for more than 11 years. He wrote about his incarceration in the Gulag (Russian Prison in Siberia). He became a Christian in 1952 during the latter part of his time in prison. He was quoted many times but he understood the change that had taken place in his life when he said
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
The focus of the Life Recovery program is change, of heart, of mind, of attitude - REAL CHANGE.
Matthew 7 v 16 says - By their fruit you will recognize them.
Under the heading “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” we need to show the change. Prison can be an easy and hard place to change. I have often told inmates that this time in prison could be the best times of their lives. They look at me with as though I had just grown another nose! I mean it. For an inmate who has spent half his life locked away, he knows little else.
ACMS tries to be the break in the chain - literally. The purpose we have is to bring the Gospel to those who may have never heard or at least to bring a different perspective to the message. We are there to make an impact, not to judge but to show them the hope of a new day, the brightness of God’s creation instead of the negative aspects of being treated as a lifetime criminal. We have heard many, many make decisions which have confirmed that this was the best time of their lives.
BREAKING THE CHAINS....
Many of you would have heard of Teen Challenge - established nearly 60 years ago by David Wilkerson, a pastor trying to fight crime, poverty, the system which worked against teenagers. What a change has taken place in many hundreds of thousands of lives. Praise God! One principle they adhere to is that of Tough Love. The inmates and offenders have to know that it is love that brought into Corrections - from the same love that took Jesus to the Cross. We dearly want the scripture of John 15 v 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. We are their friends. That message has to be real, it must be communicated.
The day that anyone receives the love and life of Jesus as a believer is the best day of their lives. If Prison is the place for that decision to take place - Praise God! Sadly, many are not in a physical prison but restricted by the actions and thoughts of others, trapped in a life they are unable to break free from. We face people everyday who need Salvation. People need to understand that it is not about being a good person or one who has not been caught for committing a crime, it is a heart issue.
Cynicism is rife in society. Why should we help these criminals? these outcasts? They are good for nothing. No-one change like that. Don’t believe them. They will change back to their old ways, you mark my words. You have heard the comments, we have many times. The program is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, not a man, not a system, nothing temporary. His word tells us that He is faithful - too make us strong and guard against the evil one, to forgive our sins, He will protect us against temptation, even when we are faithless.
I can tell you of Mike, Phil, Josh, Peter, Kevin, Alex, Nathan, Kyle, Sam, Jason and many more who have seen the best day. Not a day to come but already seen their lives transformed. Have you had the best day of your life? Were you able to enjoy it? Were you locked away for the sins you committed? Please pray for our ministry, that we can see the best days of the ives of inmates that we meet in Corrections. Try it and we will tell you great stories of changed lives.