Justin’s group sent me some 3-column studies. Their insights into passages (the first time they have ever attempted to do this) continue to amaze me. As is true of most, some prefer to speak of what “we” or “they” should do in the third column, but I continue to point out that this will be more beneficial if each point begins with the words, “I will…” This process truly is about discovery, not preaching or teaching.
Recently Justin was moved out of the pod. He was transferred to the state offices to assess his status on a parole violation. There he received a favorable ruling due to following some counsel Austin gave him months ago. Rather than waiting until his release to assess this legal matter, Austin recommended Justin write the parole board to notify them of his incarceration. At the hearing it was determined that his time served from that postmark forward would count. He will only have to complete one additional week when he finishes his current sentence. Justin gave God the glory for this determination.
I asked Justin who might be willing to attempt to restart the study group. He said Matthew (one of the guys who had recently sent me his first ever 3-column study) was the only one he anticipated was a viable candidate. The others in the pod who had participated when Austin led the group had stopped attending. It appears likely that Justin’s personality did not work well as the facilitator of the group. He had followed through on his commitment to me by teaching Matthew. Maintaining contact with this pod would hinge on Matthew’s willingness to be the person of peace.
I wrote Matthew identifying myself and giving a sketch of my work with Justin and Austin. Also, I included the article on doing a Discovery Bible Study written by Paul Watson. I invited this inmate to become the point person for a group in the pod. He would have to request that I be listed as his pastor before I could schedule a visit.
A few days later I received email confirmation from the chaplain acknowledging the request had been approved. I scheduled a visit for Friday, November 30, 2007. That very morning I received a letter from him accepting my invitation.
Matthew wrote, “Yes sir I received your letter today. I will love to be the one to keep the Bible study going. I have to be honest I don’t know a hole lot about the Bible so it will be a learning experience for me to. It’s weird because for the past week or so I have been wondering what God wanted me to do with my life and how I can repay him for the blessing that he has gave me then all the sudden I get your letter. So to me I feel this is another blessing and God’s way of answering me….To be honest I am going to need a lot of help with this because like I said I don’t know to much about the Bible but I want to chang my lifestyle and I ask that you would help me with that because I think it’s time for me to start doing for God instead of always wanting him to do for me.”
The work continues.
[ * Note: The names of these men have all been changed. All the other details are accurate.]