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A Day In Jail

Dan Leeper and I spent the day in jail yesterday.

Before you call the elders, let me explain...

It was our joy to accompany our local missionary, Chaplain Tom Beatty, as he carried out a normal day of ministry at the Kendall County Correctional Facility in Yorkville. We thought of this as a day-long mission trip into a field that is “white unto harvest” but often overlooked, right in our own backyard.

Our day began at 8:00 a.m. with an expedited training session. One of the Commanders led us through the dos & don’ts of volunteering in a local jail. Rule #1 was “OBEY ALL THE RULES!” Yes, sir... we were planning on that! We learned how to conduct ourselves in the unlikely event of a hostage situation—training which I’m glad to report we didn’t need to utilize.

Then from about 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. we walked with Tom and one of his volunteers through all of the male inmate’s pods, distributing Christian literature and Bibles, and watching Tom interact with our neighbors who live behind bars.

After a brief trip back to the Wayside Center, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a local Mexican restaurant before returning to the Correctional Facility. We then witnessed Tom teaching a group of inmates about the difference between true Christianity and mere religiosity, centering on faith in the living Christ and how one can enter into a vital and growing relationship with Jesus.

It was an instructive day for Dan and me. Here are a few things that stood out:

1. God loves people, and He is actively seeking to bring us into a living relationship with Himself—when we find ourselves at our lowest, mercifully, we are not alone but in the persistent care of the One who said: “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hosea 11:4).

2. There are many in the jails who exhibit a hunger for the Word of God—thus testifying to the truth of Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

3. None of us is immune to the temptations that lead some people to jail—we were in the presence of men just like us, some of whom knew “the language of Zion” and had worshiped and served in churches just like us. Thus, it is imperative that we heed the admonition of Galatians 6:1-3: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

4. God is gloriously able to redeem the ruins caused by our sin, and to make them into everlasting monuments of his restoring grace. Our dear brother, Tom Beatty, is a living testimony to that fact. It was beautiful for Dan and me to see how God is using Tom as a powerful and winsome ambassador for Christ and His gospel, giving him a platform to proclaim the glories of our God and King and the triumphs of his grace in a vital mission field. Like the Apostle Paul (and like all of us who believe), Tom “received mercy” so that in him, “Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).

As New Covenant Bible Church has sent Tom into this local mission field, it is our pleasure and responsibility to stay connected with his ministry through New Life Corrections. This month, during our Sunday evening service on April 28, we will hear a ministry report from Tom and pray for him and all who serve with him in this vital gospel ministry.

Grateful to be free indeed, by his grace and for his glory,

Pastor David Sunday