Thursday, July 22, 2004

July 22, 2004

10:49 PM Burl Cain, warden of Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, spoke tonight at Word of Life. Angola is the nation’s largest maximum security prison, with over 5100 inmates serving an average sentence of 88 years. Burl Cain is a fervant, outspoken evangelical Christian who has served as warden at Angola since 1995. Under his leadership, the prison has been transformed from one of the most brutal in America to one of the most peaceful. He fervently believes that the gospel of Jesus is the true power to bring about moral rehabilitation. He spoke earnestly of wanting to share Christ with every prisoner. With the help of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, they have established a functioning Bible college at Angola that trains prisoners to become ministers of the gospel. Those prisoners then go to other Louisiana prisons to share Christ. Here’s an amazing connection. After his talk, Marlene and I had a chance to meet him. In 2002 Calvary sent 5000 copies of An Anchor for the Soul and a team from the church (led by Pastor Davis Duggins) to Angola to participate in an evangelistic outreach led by Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship. Since then I have received a steady stream of letters from Angola prisoners who read the book and found Christ as a result. Warden Cain immediately remembered that our team had come, and said, “So you’re the church that sent the books?” When I told him that we have donated 200,000 copies to Prison Fellowship and Good News Jail and Prison Ministries, he asked if we could send some more books to Angola. He wants his “prison ministers” who have graduated from the Bible college to take the books with them when they go to other prisons. I gave him my card and said we would be delighted to send more books. He has a vision to establish Bible colleges in maximum security prisons in Florida and Alabama. He also hopes to see it happen in Illinois. Moody Bible Institute is willing to sponsor the school if the state will permit it. He’s already met with State Senators Peter Roskum and James Meeks to get the ball rolling. He says it can’t happen in Illinois unless the governor gives the green light. I said I would pass the word along and ask people to pray about it. And get this: The prison already has an in-house Christian radio station that is part of the Moody Broadcasting Network so the inmates can get Christian programming 24 hours a day. It’s all very amazing and a far cry from the typical American prison. He seems very interested in working with us to get more Anchor books to the prisons in Louisiana. Who knows where it will all lead? I think it is providential because he had never been to Word of Life before, had never even heard of it, and I happened to be speaking here the only time he has ever been here. I think God is up to something. Here are some articles about what God is doing at Angola: Breaking Into Prison Angola Bible School 2:14 PM Today’s entry in the Crosswalk weblog is called Is Evangelism a Hate Crime? 8:18 AM Just received a nice note from Von Matthews who told me that Proclaim will be singing in the contemporary services this Sunday. I will be delivering the first message in the new series from 1 Peter—Strangers in a Strange Land. Randy Faulkner gave me a good idea for my introduction about how America has become a “strange land” in the last few years. He’s right about that. I think this sermon series will be good preparation as we move into the “God Speaks Today” emphasis in September. We’re looking forward to being back at Calvary this Sunday. 8:10 AM It’s a foggy morning in the Adirondacks. When the fog burns off in an hour or so, we should have clear skies and a beautiful summer day. Here’s how the week has gone. Marlene and I have spent more time talking to people, meeting with them, listening to them, praying with them, laughing with them, and in general ministering and being ministered to than in any previous trip to Word of Life. Yesterday Randy Faulkner and I sat in two chairs on the lawn in front of the Inn and shared together for over two hours. Later in the evening we were at Harry and Millie Bollback’s home along with the Faulkners, Rick Warken, and Jimmy and Judy DeYoung. I had heard Jimmy on Primetime America for years, but never met him in person until this week. Jimmy graduated from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga in the late 60s and then served with Word of Life for a few years. He later moved to Jerusalem where he helped start a thriving local church. He now travels the country doing prophecy conferences. Jimmy is an old hand at Word of Life and he and Harry were going back and forth with jokes and stories last night. For us personally, these two weeks on the road have been tiring but very fulfilling. We’ve done more ministry together than ever before, talked to more people, and felt that last week at Maranatha and this week at Word of Life have been the two best weeks of conference ministry we’ve ever had. We’ve been asking the Lord to use us to encourage us and we ourselves have been encouraged as a result.

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