Ben Kinchlow

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Miraculously Free

 

by Ben Kinchlow

A short while ago, I was surrounded by miracles. Miracles that power, time, and money could not accomplish. And yet I was surrounded by these miracles. “Where was I?”, you ask. In a convention of ex-convicts.

To my right was a man who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having performed the largest single armed robbery in history. To his right - a man who had been sentenced to two life terms for murder. At the back of the room - a man whose exploits in crime made him a legend in the underworld, and caused a movie to be made of his life.

Talking to him was a young man who had been branded “incorrigible” by the system. Acting as MC - a former Hell’s Angel, who walked down the aisle with “a beard full of butterflies” and a .38 in his belt. But unlike a field of Texas Bluebonnets, they were not all the same. They didn’t look the same. They didn’t talk the same. They were male and female, black and white, fat and skinny, muscular and puny. But they were all miracles.

Sometimes, as you are sitting in church, glance around you at the handiwork of God. Lives have been changed, salvation has come to households, healings have transpired, and most quietly and without your notice. One day there was nothing. Then suddenly - a multitude of lives, transformed by the power of a living God!

With Easter just behind us, I wonder if we inadvertently forget what it means to be a believer. I use that word “believer” deliberately, because everyone believes something. Even atheists, who profess not to believe, believe in their disbelief. Agnostics, who are not sure, believe passionately that they are not sure. And those who profess vehemently that there are no absolutes are absolutely sure they are right. On the other hand, as the people of faith, we have ongoing proof of God’s existence, love, compassion, and care manifested to us every day. The miracle of spring, a new baby, a grandmother praying, a new sunrise, a flower garden, a born again Christian …. all of these are continuous evidences of the truth of our belief, and evidence that our faith is not in vain…additional proof that the Resurrection is real.

As I communicated a message to these ex-offenders, I was struck by the reason for their convention. These men and women, evidences of some of society’s absolute neglect, products of selfishness, sin, and greed, were all gathered together for a very specific purpose. Redeemed, sanctified, regenerated… they were now all voluntarily going back to prison. Most of them had no Bible school, few of them had formal education (though some did). Only one or two were "preachers". But all of them had a burning desire to go back into the very heart of Satan’s kingdom and challenge the hopelessness experienced by men and women there with the light of the Gospel. In the midst of the dark confines of solitary confinement and death row, and crowded prison cells, filled with screams, curses of rage and hostility and frustration, they walk with the peaceful, calm assurance of those who have found not "an" answer, but "the" answer.

This, for them, is the fulfillment of the Great Commission…Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom "in the uttermost parts of the world". They don’t ask for money or recognition. They just ask for more prison doors to be opened to them. Perhaps you and I could join them in remembering those who are in prison as though we were in prison with them. (Hebrews 13:3)