“You shall have no other gods before me. …You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”
Do you truly want to change? The first important step is recognizing that our relationship with God is wounded if our hearts are unclean—in other words, if our hearts secretly long for something else on this earth…for MORE than what the Father has allotted. If we are plotting for or longing for something on this earth, then we simply cannot be plotting for or longing for GOD with all of our hearts! We can have only ONE master and love of our lives. All other false gods or idols in our lives should pale next to the true, awesome, and coordinated God of the universe. So the first major step to TRUE CHANGE is to recognize that you have been trying to clean up everything else—and yet cleaning up your own heart is the major job description God has given you. – Words from Gwen Shamblin’s Post, titled “All Else Should Pale Before God” – on the www.weighdownchronicles.com website. This excerpt was taken from Rise Above, which was also written by Gwen Shamblin.
The inmates who are an active part of our Prison Ministry are DIFFERENT. In a climate where so many people around them spend the majority of their days BLAMING everything and everyone else…the system, the government, their families, someone else…ANYONE else but themselves…for their problems and their circumstances, our participants are RISING ABOVE that temptation and tendency. They are looking INWARD at their own hearts and making changes right there FIRST! In these Prison situations, this starts with their first waking moments each day. They awake and have to decide right away whether or not they will be in a “good mood” with their cellmates and Prison guards. They have to decide right away whether or not they will quickly “turn the other cheek” when they inevitably are treated with contempt by other inmates around them. They have to decide whether or not they will participate in immoral discussions…look at immoral pictures…take illegal substances…participate in slander, gossip, arguments, and fights. The opportunities to “defend themselves” by being aggressive and boastful…intimidating and confrontational…ABOUND. YET, we continue to hear stories, testimonies, and examples of our Prison Ministry participants going the OPPOSITE way of that aggressive behavior. We hear of their generosity and love. We hear of their purity and joy when confronted with the chance to fulfill a selfish desire. In short, these inmates are OVERCOMING! Take a look at some of the quotes and testimonies from the past couple of weeks in our Remnant Fellowship Prison Ministry…spread out among several different facilities.
- Mark, an inmate in one of the Georgia Prisons, is praising God for “He has used RF ministry services to help me overcome lust. It was like a monster, a clamp on my mind or like a cancer that has been removed!!! It’s amazing!!! Now I am working on eating…like eating when I am bored. God wants me to obey in everything!! I know I never want to give up in this.”
- Terrill, another inmate in one of the Georgia Prisons, says that “God has delivered me from gambling – and now He has blessed me financially!!!! He gets the Glory!!!”
- Harold says he is learning “what his strongholds are after six weeks in class and learning how to let God have control.”
- Johnny is learning to forgive after hearing the forgiveness message by Gwen.
- Ray, an inmate at one of the Georgia Prisons, gave his food tray away because he wasn’t hungry. He then went to his cell, had a stash of commissary food that tempted him, but he prayed, turned his focus off the food, put in a praise CD and the temptation went away!!! It amazed him how that worked and he was excited to share the story.
- Another inmate shared – “My new bunk mate was tempting me with pictures and I told him, ‘No! I love my wife!’” After a few weeks, the bunkmate said to Ray, “I can tell you are serious so I will quit bugging you.” This overcoming inmate said, “Lust doesn’t have a hold on me anymore!”
- DT at one of the Georgia Prisons shared the following: An inmate friend was sharing him a photo album of cars. Some had women posing with the cars…which made him pause for a minute. God provided a way of escape by having another guy come by and talk to him so he stopped looking at the pictures!!! His roommate told him later that the pictures got worse…so God protected him!!!
And the list goes on! Here are a few lines of testimony taken from recent letters sent by inmates participating in our Prison Ministry…
- Abdullah said, “I love this ministry so much. I pray and thank God for allowing me to get up every morning in my right mind. Submission to God is what my life is all about now.”
- Corey said, “I have been receiving the Remnant Fellowship weekly encouragement letters from you guys and I want to thank all of you for your support and prayers. You helped me to find the Lord. Praise the Lord for touching your hearts and letting the inmates involved with your service feel that they are cared for.”
- Charles said, “Thank you for the letters we receive each week, they mean so much to me. I know God works miracles. He sent me to one of your workshops in prison, and that’s the best thing that ever happened to me!!! ALSO included in this letter from Charles were handwritten notes from 12 other men at his new prison requesting the “History of the ONE TRUE GOD” book and workbook so they can study together and learn more about God!
NOW – As you read and even re-read these statements and testimonies and stories…and you reflect upon what your personal tests are each day…doesn’t it CHARGE you to hear about these Saints who are OVERCOMING in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances? Nearly EVERYTHING around these inmates is poking and prodding them to lash out in anger or fight back or argue or go along with the immoral conversations or pictures or activities. But they are making the MOST of the time that they have in our Prison Ministry classes…and they are hanging on to every word that Gwen is sharing in these videos and written materials. For those of us who are NOT incarcerated (and that’s everyone reading this article on this website), are we approaching each day and these precious materials with the same level of desperation or ferocity? Are we soaking up every word like we might not get to see or hear or read it again? These inmates are treating this Truth like their very LIVES depend upon it…and they DO depend upon it. But to all of us NOT in Prison – OUR lives depend upon it EVERY BIT AS MUCH as theirs do! May we embrace this tremendous opportunity to experience this Truth, Ministry, and Church while we are FREE to do so without restriction! What GOD is pouring out through Gwen is rare in this world and in our lifetime. May we ALL be able to testify to our own beautiful changes…inside and out!