The inmates came into the room, some greeted each other warmly, some with nods of acquaintance, and one was there seemingly solitarily, but obviously deep in quiet thought amidst the flurry of activity. Chairs needed to be put out, a stand for the flip chart set up and the DVD player connected. The venue had changed at the last minute to get a room equipped with a working video screen and as things settled down, Dinh quietly took a seat.
We engaged in an exercise to see where different people were on the spectrum of faith. Were they active participants? Sympathetic supporters? On the bench? Observers with an interest in exploring more? The range of responses in the room was pretty broad with indications that there were all types present. Dinh openly admitted that he was exploring what this “Jesus thing” was about. He had been given a Bible at some stage, had read through it and wanted to know more. In discussing the early passages of Mark, Dinh’s responses indicated that he had retained much of what he had read. His memory of Bible passages and his ability to draw together threads from the Bible narrative were impressive.
Dinh participated freely in the discussion times during the first weeks of The Prisoner’s Journey. It was evident that the discovery of what Christianity is about, who Jesus is, and why he came had had a significant impact on him. He linked the title of Jesus as Messiah and Christ to ancient rites of anointing and quickly pointed out that this made Jesus a king. The excitement of discovery was gripping Dinh as his understanding started to grow.
As the course progressed Dinh thought more deeply about what Jesus did, as told by Mark. How Jesus had power and authority to teach, to heal, to command nature opened Dinh’s eyes more to the person of Jesus. A critical issue came when Dinh embraced the power of Jesus to forgive sin…to forgive Dinh’s sin.
We serve a loving God who will reveal Himself to those who honestly seek him. We were able to trace the fingerprints of God in the change Dinh experienced. He was a very intelligent man who had read widely. He had researched a number of belief systems and had made good use of the Bible he had been given. What started as another exploration of a major world religion for Dinh grew into a discovery of a loving God who sent Jesus to give life to those who seek Him; and Dinh sought him out in honesty and humility.
Dinh was released before the completion of the course but it was with joy that he was able to say that he was now a Christian. Dinh’s participation in The Prisoner’s Journey had been relatively brief but, through the power of the Holy Spirit, this journey has led Dinh to have faith in the One who came to seek and to save the lost.
Rick Hunt – Prison Fellowship VIC State Manager