Friday, May 9, 2008

How Great is Our God!

Just this week, I received two amazing emails about God at work in our world. The first email is from M, who I have mentioned in previous prayers. M is a missionary in Asia; I use an initial because she is in a nation where missions are illegal. She recently sent out a prayer request for a young girl she called Gentle. She gave the girl that name in hope that it would become true. For, it was not true at the time. In fact, Gentle was a martial arts expert with a history of violence; and she came from a violent family. Yet, in this recent email, M tells of a miraculous change. Gentle has accepted Christ!

The second email is from Dr. Johnny Bley. He’s the director of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension program at the Mississippi State Penitentiary. They offer fully accredited bachelor’s degree in ministry to prison inmates who will lead churches within the prisons. Crazy you say? But, these men are often so completely changed by the gospel it is amazing. And this email will show some more examples.

Part of the email from M:

I was telling you in my last letter that [Gentle’s] mom was beaten and verbally abused many times by her Muslim husband. Her mom told Gentle and her two other brothers that if it weren’t for them she would have ended her life long time ago. Gentle grew up often seeing her father abusing and beating her mother and her heart became colder and colder, full of anger and bitterness toward him.

Gentle went home [for the weekend] and on Friday night, at 11 pm, she called me on my cell phone and she was crying desperately. She told me that her father beat her and she was running away from home. Our conversation got cut off and I couldn’t get a hold of her for the next couple of days. She did come back to school eventually but she didn’t want to meet me for a few days because she was too embarrassed. When we finally met it took her a long time to look into my eyes and start sharing what happened to her. We walked around the campus and she kept sharing. I just felt that her heart was ready that night to hear the gospel. It was late, I was tired and my [ability to speak the local language] was pretty bad that night but God gave me peace and reminded me that all I had to do was just to be there for this…girl and love on her. She said that she really wants to get rid of her anger, to start her personal relationship with…the One true God who loves her so much. At the end of our time together she asked me something that was very surprising, especially coming from a…person [of this culture]. She said, “Can I give you a hug?” and then she just cried for a few minutes. Here it was, this [Asian] Muslim girl whose heart used to be so closed and full of anger and who now started to warm up and receive God’s love for the first time in her life. That night, on my way back home, I was riding my bike, listening to P&W and just praising God.

Thank you, Lord for the miracle of another [person] stepping out of darkness into your Kingdom, for the miracle of witnessing how this girl is becoming…GENTLE.

Please continue to pray for Gentle, for her spiritual protection as she started her journey with God. She has lots of wounds in her heart and she needs serious counseling (she showed me on her left arm the scars from her cutting herself with a sharp pencil! She said she did that many times as her way to find relief from anger).

And here is part of the email from Dr. Bley:

One of our 15 inmates at unit 32 [the super-max prison unit] was witnessing to an inmate on his tier. After a Monday night class, he was excited about what we had been discussing and decided to try to witness to this inmate again. Instead of listening to him, the inmate pulled a shank and attacked our student, cutting him 9 times: twice in the chest, four cuts on his head and three on his arms. Our student not only survived the attack but is back in class and has forgiven the other inmate for the attack. Our student's prison moniker is "Killer," and another inmate, a non-Christian, exclaimed, "Killer, Jesus really has changed you hasn't he!" He is a walking witness to God's ability to completely change an inmate from a killer to a martyr. Can you say WOW?

…In the past academic year, our men have personally led 82 men to the saving knowledge of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Friends, personally there is no greater reason for me to shout "Wow" and "Hallelujah" for what our great God is doing in this place.


Oh God, you are so unbelievably, unimaginably, uncontainably, awesome! You are truly the Lord of hosts--God of all powers. Only you can change the hearts of men, and no man's heart is so evil or so strong as to resist your amazing grace. I praise you for your great mercy and love, your forgiveness that you have given to all those who you have called into your family for your glory. May every one stand and praise your name and bring you glory for all eternity.

From the beginning, you have reached out to a stubborn people. You called out to Adam in the garden and showed him that you would make things right. You called out to Abraham and promised him a nation when he was practically dead. You called Moses while he was on the run, and through him you rescued your chosen nation. You called Jonah to preach your forgiveness to an evil nation, and when he refused and ran, you caught him and led him to Nineveh. And when he grew angry over your forgiveness, you showed him and me that you care for people more than any of us.

You sent Jesus to live the life that brings you glory--the glory every person has exchanged for idols--and to die in our place for our idolatry. And when Paul tried to kill off your church, you grabbed hold of him and showed him how much he must suffer for your glory.

And even today, you are changing hearts and minds, turning them upside down and focusing them on your name and beauty. You are taking people whose hearts are filled with hate and replacing that hate with love. Who else could take a murderer and turn him into a loving martyr? Who else could take a man who killed his enemies and make him into a man who would die for his enemies. Your people are not like those who follow the Devil. Your people do not seek power and martyrdom through killing. Jesus told Peter to put away his swords and he told Pilot that he could call angels to defend him, but his kingdom was not of this world. Your people know that the greatest love is not being willing to kill in your name, but being willing to give one's self over to death, if need be, for your name and your glory and your honor.

Oh God, I pray that you would continue to work miracles in
Parchman, MS and Asia, and throughout the world. I pray that all your chosen people would hear the voice of their Shepherd and follow him. And I pray that all your people would take up their cross and follow him. Revive your church and give us power through your Spirit. Give us strength and courage to share your good news and to tell people-everyone--about their need of you and your offer of grace to them. And I pray that you would open their hearts to your word and write your law on their hearts. Remove their hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh.

I pray that you would bless Killer and his ministry and word spreads throughout
Parchman of how you changed him and made him new, how you removed his filthy clothes and gave him clean white clothes. And I pray for Gentle as she begins her new life as your child. May you bring her healing from the pain she has endured for so long and may you comfort her and show her what it feels like to have a loving father. Bless the ministries at Parchman and Angola, and in Asia; bless the missionaries who have carried your world into the parts of the world where you were not known, whether those places are in Asia, in maximum security prisons, or anywhere else in the world.

And may your church see these works of yours and now that you are God.

I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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