When Representative Charles Van Zant and His wife attended the Regional Conference this year, they heard a powerful message by David Gibbs on How to Do the Impossible. After Representative Van Zant took office, God opened the door for him to be appointed as chairman to the board of Corrections and he has 144 prisons under his care. God had also laid a burden on them for the spiritual well being of each of the inmates. In July, Chaplin Bob Holyfield conducted a Basic Seminar in the Lowell Reception Center near Ocala, Florida. Nearly 100 ladies attended with outstanding responses. Word began to spread in the prison and when a baptism service was offered several weeks later over 150 ladies asked to be baptized.
On October 21, we began the first ever Prison Journey to the Heart for those inmates who had gone through the Basic Seminar. Of the 70 ladies who remained, 62 of the ladies committed to go through the Journey. Trained staff from IBLP came from all over the US and even Mexico to share the love of Christ as they went through the powerful resources typically used in a Journey to the Heart. As the team proceeded through the seven 12-14 hour days, we saw God change lives. Sharing the true message of salvation several for the first time committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Almost night and day differences could be seen in their countenances and many of the officers even remarked at the difference.
A couple ladies seemed especially hard and distant, but after one of our staff shared a riveting testimony on the power of forgiveness, the walls came down and both of them in tears received Christ as their Savior.
A beautiful spirit of one accord developed in the teams as each one surrendered their competing affections and committed to love God with all their heart soul mind and strength. One morning, one of the inmates had a real burden on their heart for one of the ladies in their dorm that she had been witnessing to. However, she came running up saying she had just learned that her young daughter had been missing for three days and police did not have much more they could do to find her. She asked if we could cry out for her to be found. We explained about the power of crying out and then led the whole group in prayer. That evening the ladies were ecstatic when we relayed that her daughter had been found.
By the end of the Journey the ladies hearts were full and running over. We announced a special meeting that would include a Gospel Chalk Art presentation featuring the Gospel. The buzz of excitement spread and nearly a third of the entire prison population of 600 came out to listen. The following day we took time to address the ladies and answer many of the questions. Then we did a second chalk talk. Realizing the difference in quality if we did not find a way to turn down the standard prison lights, we worked with the prison staff to find a way, but nothing we tried really worked. However, just as we began to show the final drawing with the different color lights, the lights in the room miraculously turned off. Thus, when it was time to see the blacklight image, it reflected brilliantly. God answers prayer!
As we shared with each of these ladies, I realized that through the truths of God’s Word, these ladies could be the freest people on the face of the earth. The barbed wire would not be to hold them in, but to keep the world out. These ladies, though still physically incarcerated could be the freest people mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What a blessing to see these ladies become just that–Free!“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Florida Fun With Family!!
We also made sure we had a little time for some fun with Priscilla’s Family. The day we left to return to Chicago we took a little time to enjoy some tennis.