One of the blessings of coming to New York City to do ministry is being ministered to at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. And today was definitely one of those days! Our teammate, Katrina, asked if we wanted to go because they were doing simulcast service between Angola Prison, the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the Brooklyn Tabernacle. And I thought, why not?
Angola Prison is the largest maximum security prison in the United states and it houses 6300 prisoners. 74% of them have life sentences. To us it would appear that they have no hope at all but for the 4 men that shared today, Angola is where they found a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And these men are not alone. The “chapel”, which is as large as most of our churches, was full of men praising God with hands raised. They listened to each speaker with heads nodding in agreement and a look of contentment on their faces.
There were 3500 people at the Tabernacle and several hundred inmates of the Angola Prison worshiping God together as one body of Christ, one church. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Jesus died on the cross to not only forgive my sins, but to forgive the sins of everyone, including theses inmates who have committed unspeakable crimes.
One of the most moving times was when a man, who had been convicted of 1st degree murder at the age of 16, got up and gave his testimony of how he came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. When he was done he looked at his mother, who was sitting in the front row (one of 2 family members in attendance) and he asked for her forgiveness. He had been in that prison for 25 years already and would spend the rest of his natural life there but he knows that his life will not end when he leaves Angola. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice he will spend eternity praising Him. Praise God for this amazing gift!