“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17
It seems odd to think that one can be free while one is in prison. Almost like the ultimate oxymoron. The amazing thing about God’s grace though, is that even while your body is being held captive – your spirit can still be free.
On the 27th of September, YWAM Ratchaburi, in conjuction with the Ratchaburi Central Prison and the Siam Dream Center, held a concert for one thousand prisoners. There has been an incredible openness to the Gospel amongst the inmates from the very first time that we began visiting the prison and on this day, while the numbers were much larger than we have ever had the chance to meet with, the level of openness was the same.
Inside the prison, there is very little opportunity for the prisoners to express themselves. Music, dancing, sharing, laughing – those are things that they may remember from their lives outside. Things that were taken away when they lost their freedom to the walls of the prison for whatever crime it was that they committed. The concert gave them the chance to have a small taste of those things once again –to remember some of the joys of living.
During the concert, a friend of ours shared a message about the value of life. Another shared his testimony about how God set him free from a life of drugs and then another shared the message of hope that is in Christ Jesus. He invited the people to close their eyes and place their hands on their heart and ask Jesus to come and live in them and change their lives. As we watched more than half of the thousand people did as he directed them to do.
We don’t know where most of them are at, and what they will do with the knowledge that they gained about the God who loves them – but we do know that on that day hearts were visibly touched as tears flowed from the eyes of many of the prisoners while they prayed. They may not be free to walk outside of the prison walls, but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom – freedom of spirit, freedom to hope, freedom to be a new creation, freedom to be a child of God no matter what you have done.
To be free whilst in prison – perhaps it’s an oxymoron, a contradiction of terms – but that’s what the God of grace is all about. We rejoice that none of us deserve grace, but that through Christ Jesus, God has made it available to each of us, if only we would believe. Amazing grace indeed!
Our fellowship of one hundred men in the men’s zone of the prison will continue, and we will start a fellowship in the women’s zone this November. Please pray for us as we seek God for guidance as to how to best meet the spiritual needs of those inside the prison. If you are interested in supporting or coming to join the prison ministry in Ratchaburi, please contact us.