(The Radical Love)
King Josiah’s life was ultimately led by love. He gave himself to the saving of his kingdom, of his people, of their children, of their future. His campaign was ultimately driven by love, his love for God and his love for his people.
Those who would follow the Lamb must live as He lived, a life of radical love.
Their love as His must have no condition, no limits, no earthly reason, and no natural cause.
They must love the unloving, the unlovely, and the unlovable.
They must manifest their love in the sharing of salvation to the lost and in compassion to the needy in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and setting the captives free.
Their love must not, in any way, weaken their stand against evil. Nor must their stand against evil in any way weaken their love.
They must live a life of love that confounds the world.
The lambs of Josiah’s Passover epitomize sacrifice. The Lamb of God, Messiah, epitomizes self-sacrifice, the giving of one’s life to save others i.e. total love. The one who follows the Lamb must live likewise.
Their love does not, in any way, lessen their calling to stand against evil. Rather, it requires it. Parents who do not seek with all their strength to fight against the disease that ravages the life of their child do not love their children. So the righteous who do not fight against the evil that destroys their world and those in their lives do not love. At the same time, the fight against evil must never compromise the command to love. The people of God must love their enemies, bless those who curse them, and pray for those who persecute them – and by so doing, confound and overcome the world.
Now on to meet a few more special people and their stories in jail.
(Andres) My brothers and I always called him our brother from another mother, of all the guys I have met on this journey, he was the one I spent the most of the time with daily. When I got to 7 West, he was already here and in the prayer circle one night He over heard me talking to someone and thought I said I was a mercenary, but I said for “missionary”. Maybe that is why he didn’t approach me right away, hehe just kidding. Well, his story is an amazing example of God’s grace. God never gives up on us, oh, the goodness of God. Reminds me of the song “Goodness of God” by Cece Winans. A great song!
You see, Andres through this time in his life came to know Jesus as His Savior, on the outside he didn’t care to know the LORD. Through his suffering he came to the Lord and not only that, he led his family to know the Lord also, his dad even helps in the church his family attends. What the devil meant to destroy him and us has brought more to Christ! Praise God. He and I have done so much together, he was always at the services, singing, praying and teaching sometimes. He has been a great brother and friend. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to have discipled him and watch him grow spiritually. Also, he was there for me in my hard times, someone I could confide with and breakdown to and even cry. Many have seen me as the Pastor here and I have been there for men that need hope and a shoulder to cry on. But sometimes we, Pastors, leaders, need that support, Andres was there for me, Thank you brother. I hope to see him again on earth, but if not, we are heaven bound.
(Rafa) Was a hardened guy and never opened up to me, just knew me and respected what I was doing. I can’t remember even how we started talking, I think he went to a church service. Then we started hanging out, come to find out he was blaming God cause his dad and sister had died some years before. Overtime, he started to change and let God back in his life, we would pass verses back and forth while in locked down during Covid. We would have orderlies run them back and forth for us. He seemed determined to change and soon go home and encouraged his wife and mother in the faith. He used to play an instrument in Church when he was younger, he was considering doing it again. God was breaking up that heart of stone, and he started to witness.
(Fac) Such a talent this brother has. He could listen to a song on the radio and play it soon there after on the guitar. So, he and I, Jordan and Andres would practice and sing in the services. We actually did alright, songs like “There was Jesus”, “Be Alright”, “Rescue story”, and more. It not only blessed us by praising the Lord, but more people would come to the Church services to worship. Men in jail don’t really cry where they can be seen, it is seen as a sign of weakness. But when I would sing or preach, tears would run down my face and many would cry also, I would tell them, if our King Jesus wept, I will weep also. It takes a courageous man to shown his true emotions. Fac came to me once saying his girlfriend was gonna move on, he was emotional and I said lean on the Lord and He can carry this burden for you, It will be alright, trust God. When Fac arrived he told someone that in jail you don’t have friends. Then when he had to move on, I was in my cell, and he came to say goodbye and we both cried and thanked God for allowing us to meet. We became close brothers. When you worship the Lord with someone, it creates a strong bond. Never forget to worship and praise the Lord, O how sweet it is.
(Mike the Jew) He was in the cell with a brother that attended the Spanish service and that Brother Francisco invited him to the English service which I held also. He was not sure about it, but showed up one day and heard me preach. I preached of Jesus and the wickedness going on in this world and corrupt system. He really liked it and told me, you are not like the normal religious people. I said cause I am not religious. He seemed confused and I said it’s about one’s relationship with God. I went on to explain that Jesus is the Messiah and he was a Jew. He never knew that, but soon could see it was true. One night I saw him worried and called him to my room. He said they were sending him to another place. I told him that he would be fine if Jesus was in his life and that moment he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior!
(Continue Mike the Jew)
He ended up leaving that night. A month later, the day they moved Dad and Joe away, for a few months, I was sad, then I heard someone call my, Jonathan, Jonathan, I looked up and there was Mike, all excited and telling me, you were right, Jesus is real! We got together after and he told me many things the Lord did for him in his journey. He also was even witnessing to his Jewish brothers and Rabbi about Jesus, saying that He is the Messiah. I have seen Mike grow in the Lord and it touches my heart to see our Jewish brothers come to Jesus. We are in the end times.
Like I said before I could go on and on so I will give only a few more short stories, then next week I would like to focus only on the story of Otis, a story that not only touched many lives but brought unity to 7 West.
(Ezequiel): An atheist on the outside, a born again believer in jail and witnessing to his family through messages and the phone.
(An Ex-Governor of Mexico) A devout Catholic who had me preach to his fellow Catholics and started bringing them to our services. The Catholic services were discontinued and more people came to know Jesus in our services not through religion, but through His Word.
(Lem) A timid and shy kind, but with a voice for God. I encouraged him, telling him, open your mouth and sing to the Lord. He then begun to sing and teach us songs. One time we had like 40 guys on the basketball court and we all sang to the Lord and marched around the court praising God, even in the apartments near by, people were listening and pointing at us. These walls can’t contain us, the Holy Spirit will break through these walls and peoples hard hearts. Also, Lem taught me how to make jail cheesecakes, mmm.
(Yov) My fellow Dominican brother, would always get the time of praise going. You would see the child come out from within us, that child that sang those songs to Jesus returns. Yov reminded me of songs I had heard many years ago and we would clap and sing and rejoice, what a joyful time for a bunch of jailers.
(Sam I am) One day while playing dominoes a new guy on the floor sits down. I notice that he is Haitian and I sang out loud a song in Creole that I learned in the mountains of the Dominican Republic when I was a child. We had Churches in the mountains amongst the Haitian and Dominican people during that time, even today some of the Churches have continued. As soon as I sang that song tears started to fill in the eyes of Sam and he said, that is my dad’s favorite song. He told me that his dad is over 90 years old and still a minister in Haiti. We got to know more about each other, he as a missionary and worked in a church. He helped very much in service, he would read scripture, devotions and speak. I thought from the beginning of being on this floor that this is a good place to reach many people for Christ, seeing many come through here. So I began to pray and reach men while expecting to leave soon and men like Sam would come through, probably some 40-50 men with leadership qualities. Then when they were encouraged and learned more of God’s Word, God would have them moved. After about 2 years, I was in prayer and asking the Lord, Oh Lord, when are you gonna send that guy I have been praying for? The one that will win people to You, they seem to all leave and I am still here. And as if the Spirit of God shouted out to me, You are that man! I was stunned, I said: Lord it can’t be me, I am not worthy. I have come to accept what the Lord has commanded of me. Men like Sam have gone on and I know more have been led to Christ, Praise the Lord! Most guys arrive here broken and God uses me to lead them to Christ or encourage their faith, to continue the mission elsewhere. Thank God dad is here, he has been taking over the English service. Also, Jordan has always been a support to me, I thank God for that.
(Josh) He only was here for a few weeks or a month, not long. I saw him sitting and started a conversation, come to find out he was a new believer and we had him to study and he ate it up. I knew he needed encouragement, recently married and separated from his wife, I know the feeling and we really bonded as brothers. He actually helped me tremendously with a shoulder injury. I suffered for a year and God sent Josh, a physical therapist to me to help me, Thank you brother.
(Jeff) He would attend the Spanish services and we would talk sometimes. The one day he was carried out, with no response, some say he died for a bit and was brought back. He tried to commit suicide. So, I prayed, O Lord save him and please bring him back, please give me the opportunity again to witness to him, please Lord. People don’t always come back, after they live sometimes they move them. But about a month later he returned and 2 days later at night I said you need Jesus brother, read Romans 10 tonight, do it, promise me, he came to me and dad the next morning and received Jesus and His Savior. If we weren’t here I am afraid he never would have accepted Jesus. Heaven rejoices and our suffering has meaning.
I hope everyone enjoys these short stories. Of course so much more can be added, but this is the best I can do for now. Besides many coming to the Lord we have been able to give out tracts, food, clothes, whatever we are able and most recently thanks to all that have been a part with Bibles, we have received Bibles! 1 at a time cause that is how it works here, but they are arriving and we are giving them away and taking more to church. So again thank you, God is using you more than you know. I would like to give a special thank you to Dick, our brother who is leading the prayer meetings and helping in so many ways. We have never spoken yet brother, but words cannot express my gratitude to you for all you do. Some place, some water, but God gives the increase. Thank you for your part in the Kingdom of God. May God bless you all.
Next week, Lord willing, you will get to know Otis’s story. What a big and profound impact he had on people here.
Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Until next time
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Rivers in a Desert Ministry