Last night I had the moving experience of preaching in a Muskegon prison. My former student Craig Curtis is doing a stellar job as the prison chaplain, and he invited me to come preach on the topic of hell. I asked whether the prisoners had heard of Love Wins, and I was told that they didn’t care much for it, as they have little patience for anything that doesn’t come directly from Scripture. When you’ve hit rock bottom, you need to hear the voice of God, not one person’s ruminations that often contradict Scripture (also what Barth learned in his Safenwil pastorate when World War I broke out).

Chuck Colson has preached at this prison a few times–most notably on Easter last year–and his influence is palpable. Craig is leading a select group through Prison Fellowship’s TUMI curriculum, and several told me afterwards how much they are learning and growing from his teaching.

Bottom line:  it’s wonderful to worship with a redeemed group of 75 prisoners, singing “I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain,” because they sing like they mean it, as if they desperately need it to be true. God is working in our prisons, and if you ever get the chance to preach there, or even to worship there, take it. There’s nothing else quite like it.


Add yours →

  1. Thanks for tweeting your post. Truth is always refreshing, reenergizing, and it is the source of authentic hope. I am sure it’s amazing to see how God works in the unlikeliest of places such as a prison.

  2. Amen. I recall the song “I will fly away” to be quite moving

  3. Thanks for this uplifting post! God’s Word shines brightly in the darkest places and brings hope in the bleakest circumstances.

  4. My first exposure to “ministry” was through my church’s prison ministry. Ken Pelton recruited me at 16 and 17 to sing special music a preach a few times at the Ottawa County correctional facility. I went a handful of times and every time I did it was indeed a blessing.

    Glad you could go and encourage fellow brothers/sisters in Christ in their walk with their Savior…and also share in the joy of prison ministry!


  5. Craig invited me to attend this event, and my impressions parallel Mike’s. Everything from the prisoners’ sincere fellowship and worship to the quality of the music leader and band cried out, “God is in this place.” It was my privilege to share in this special evening.

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