Our mission work here in Macas came to an end this morning, and what a special day this was. Today was our last day in the prison and we had a little over an hour to finish what we felt was needed to make sure our work would last after we leave.We wanted to go over the evangelism tools with them and leave them with bibles and all the teaching materials we had used with them. Leaders needed to be commissioned to be responsible for the continuation of the ministry to the lost and the building up of the body.
About 28 men had gathered and we began as usual with prayer and worship. Oh how I wish you could have seen these men (prisoners) worship. I don’t think of them as convicts anymore, but as brothers. My second translator Daniel, led the worship with a borrowed a guitar and they sang with all their hearts. I explained to them my sadness that we would not see them again and re-emphasized their responsibility to fulfill Christ commission to make disciples there in their world.
We demonstrated the Evangecube and one of the new leaders took a turn presenting it himself in front of the group. I had them write down Scriptures to read beginning with the book of Acts to learn how Jesus built His church. I warned them that Satan would try to destroy what God had done this week and often does it by tempting us to be angry or jealous with each other. I told them to write down Matthew Ch 18 and to resolve all conflicts using this passage. I gave them the passages from 1 Tim and Titus that describe the type of man a church leader should be and told them they should choose a number of men from their group that meet these qualifications who will take responsibility to gather the group for worship, prayer and study of God’s word.
We then appointed the 12 most faithful men as the core leadership and all laid hands on them to pray for them and commission them for their responsibility. I almost could not lead the prayer as I thought about Paul leaving behind the churches he had labored over. The love in that room was so powerful that had to choke back the tears. After the closing prayer I gave all the materials to the man I considered the most trustworthy, Abraham is his name, and whispered to him that we were leaving the church in his hands.
Our translators had a bus to meet but they would not let us leave, each one telling us goodbye and hugging us over and over several times and wanting pictures taken with them. Even though I could not understand the words no translation was needed. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice and feel it in their touch. Hard neck hugs with these prisoners was more precious than I can describe. An older man named Juan (John) presented me with a beautiful wooden jewelry chest he had made in the prison wood shop and wanted a picture taken with him giving it to me.
They hugged us all the way to the front gate where we had to face the final goodbye. I was emotionally drained and breathless but full of joy that a church had been born. The local pastor, Hulio Dos Santos, will have a great group of men to shepherd.
Your prayers have been used by God, make no mistake. This would not have happened without the fervent prayers you were making on our behalf and theirs. Thank you so much. I will never forget this.
posted by Jim Entrekin