"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
The latest addition to my video library includes a concert given by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir inside Angola Prison. I knew about the prison but I had no idea what has been going on there for the past 15 or so years that Burl Cain became warden. What an eye opener! Come to find out there are scads of articles all over the net about this and how everyone is amazed at how the whole atmosphere of this prison, at one time one of the bloodiest and most violent prisons in existence. It used to be called "the Hole," and "The Alcatraz of the South," but now approximately 1,600 of the 5,000 inmates are born again Christians.
This prison has a very dark past that began before the Civil War. It is a place of no second chances and 85 percent of these prisoners will die within it's walls. And yet......Everything started to change with the arrival of Burl Cain. He allowed Prison Fellowship to come in, and church groups to hold Bible studies. It now has 3 Chapels and a 200 student Bible college. They intentionally built the church steeples higher than the guard towers. They also have a Christian radio station on site.
Most moving to me were the testimonies of these prisoners, many of them as young as 18 when they entered. They know they may be in for life, but now they have hope for the first time because they have met the only one who can make anyone truly free, Jesus Christ. No longer hopeless, you can now see the light of Christ behind their eyes.
Everything they had was stripped away, including their freedom. It was there that Jesus met them. Really, that is how we all must meet Him isn't it?
When you get to the point where you realize we can do nothing to save ourselves, and nothing we do on our own is good enough, that is where He comes in. It is there He meets us. The tragedy is, some out here in the land of what we call freedom will never find Him because they are too busy chasing everything this world has to offer......
Because of their new life in Christ, these prisoners can taste true freedom for the first time, and they are sharing it with everyone who will listen! Burl Cain says: "When these guys step into church, they have a small island of freedom, because this is no longer prison, it is church." That just about says it all.
We are all being rehabilitated really aren't we? They are being rehabilitated for the outside world, and we are all being rehabilitated to live in Heaven someday. That is what this life is all about, getting us ready for the next!
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me." Philippians 1:3-7
|Church at Angola Prison|