Whom Shall I Send?
By Carlos M., A Brother in Christ at Salinas Valley State Prison, Soledad, CA
Does God care about the condemned/prisoner? In Hebrews 13:3, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” God’s Word here states for believers to remember “them that are in bonds,” i.e. prisoners. Surely, God must mean only those who are bound for the Gospel’s sake.
When I read this, I felt it wasn’t meant for me, a man guilty and sent to prison. Aren’t we prisoners the last who deserve remembrance? Yet, all through God’s Word we read about prisoners, and one in particular sticks out. In II Chronicles 33:4-7, 10-18, we read about a king. This king did everything contrary to God’s Word and ways, from worship, to false gods, to child sacrifice. Every single abomination according to God’s law, Manasseh did, and because of those acts he was bound. Put into prison. God sought him out, still, to save him. God did not let him die in his sin but led him bound so he might repent.
In Psalms 107:10- 13, “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” Most of this Psalm reads like this and the reason for bonds is in verse 15, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” This is stated best in II Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Many of the Apostles went to prison, (Acts 5:18; 16:31); also we know the story of Joseph. These men were innocent, but did they keep their mouths shut? Did they not declare the Gospel in the dungeon? Was praise or prayer held from their lips? No! As a result, convicts were saved. Read the story in Acts 16, when the earthquake hit, everybody’s chains were loosed and the cell doors opened, not only Paul’s and Silas’s, but all. Look what Paul says to the jailer in 16:28, “do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” Why was everyone still around? The Gospel’s sake, hope and freedom were there in prison.
Have you ever wondered why prisons exist? Sure, to protect law abiding citizens from perpetrators. Yet God allowed them for a different purpose as we read in Psalms 107, prisons, chains, being bound were and are given by the mercy of God. Given so that we wicked might confess, repent, and behave.
The question I now ask for us who were godless and put away is how can we know what to believe? Romans 10:13-17 also puts forth this statement with an answer, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” It is one reason Joseph, Peter, and Paul were locked away, to witness to the one true God.
So, now I present a question to you; what are you doing? I have heard many a person say, “I have no calling.” Yet we sit in here every day calling out to you. Has God put us on your heart? Well then, you can do what God has called you to do in one of two ways. Go willing or go wailing! Either way you are going to go. You are very much needed and missed. God sent His most honored saints to us. This could be your honor also. You are the tool or vessel made of gold to pour out God’s love toward us, in John 13; 34, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”, is the witness needed in a loveless, godless, hopeless environment. I know God cares for those of us who are convicted. Christ died for those who were convicted and condemned as in Luke 23: 39-43, “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Do you care for us?
In Luke 14:26-27, “ If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Also in Luke 6:40, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Tell me, or rather, think honestly, do you believe anybody is not worthy of salvation? Christ didn’t. In fact the Lord Jesus’ fi rst act of mercy and grace was when he took Barabbas’s cross (Luke 23:18, 25; Mark 15:15). Would you be willing to do that? We are in need of volunteers badly. How valuable is your time? To us it is immeasurable. How hard, strenuous, or life exerting is it to minister here in prison? Compare it to what Jesus has done for you. Are we second class Christians?
I leave you with Romans 10:9-18, saints, somebody bound is waiting for you to bring the Word to them. Pay attention to verse 14 of Romans 10. God has called you as He did in Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!’” I hope your response is the same that you tell God, “Here I am Lord, send me.” I close with one last thought, I Thessalonians 5:14-23, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fi re; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That is all beloved, Peace be with you, Maranatha.
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