Updated: May 4, 2021
Jack is a disciple-maker and member of the CDM Coached Team who helps inmates in a Texas maximum security prison fall in love with Jesus. Jack’s Disciple Making Community, comprised of inmates who follow Jesus, started 37 Discovery Groups with over 300 men that multiplied to the 5th generation and baptized 13 inmates in the last year. Here’s Jack telling the story himself in October 2020.
Working Among Murderers & Child Molesters Prisoners with a G3 rating have committed serious crimes like murder or child molestation. Those with a G4 rating have committed major infractions while in prison, such as assaulting an officer. G4 prisoners are one step away from complete solitary confinement and spend 22 hours in their cells each day. Guards closely monitor prisoners during the 2 hours outside their cells and limit their interactions with others.
God called me to make disciples in the hardest to reach places. I refuse to let a G4 rating and limited accessibility keep me from inviting prisoners to read God’s Word.
The Hardest of Criminals May Be a Person of Peace I’ll never forget my first conversation with a G4 inmate. He was a towering, six-foot-four, athletic man - strong enough to reach over the table and strangle me. There was a death in his family and I allowed him to use my phone to call his grand- mother. I overheard her tell him that he needed to get his life together and get right with God. After he hung up the phone, I said, “I heard your conversation with your grandma. Would you like to talk more about these spiritual things?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I really would like to.”
Not too much later, as we read God’s Word together in our Discovery Bible Study, his cell mate walked up and wanted to join in. God prepared this cell mate to be a Person of Peace who eventually brought seventy G4 inmates together in one room to break out into smaller Discovery Groups and learn about God.
Inmates Lead Discovery Bible Studies & Baptize The inmates facilitate their own Discovery Bible Studies. As part of the Discovery Bible Study process, they learn to obey God’s Word. One inmate, after reading in Genesis, realized that he needed to repent from living in a homosexual relationship. He called in his sexual partner and broke it off right in front of everyone saying, “This isn’t God’s plan.”
A dozen inmates decided they wanted to cultivate a daily prayer habit. I helped them create a Prayer Calendar and they committed to pray with another inmate every day. Several reached out to other prisoners and helped them develop Prayer Calendars of their own!
Inmates are obeying the Great Commission and have baptized one another. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, three inmates gave their lives to Christ and their fellow inmates baptized them. In one case, a G4 inmate baptized another G4!
Nothing Can Stop The Kingdom of God G4 believers must develop other leaders to overcome the strict limitations of their environment. When one of our leaders doesn’t have the clearance to meet with a new Discovery Group, he trains another inmate with access to those men to lead in his place. When you make disciples this way, persecution, pandemics, and prison limitations can’t stop you. As long as you don’t give up, nothing can stop you. That’s why I’m not going to give up or let the inmate believers on my team give up.
Lessons Learned from Prison Movement We learn several lessons from Jack’s story. First, the hardest places often yield the greatest fruits. Prisons seem to house the least righteous individuals on earth. However, God is working through Jack and his team, simply because Jack was willing to listen to and obey God.
Second, Persons of Peace can be those you’d least expect. The first Person of Peace Jack met was a G4 inmate. God works through all kinds of people to accomplish His will.
Finally, when you empower leaders, nothing can stop the spread of the Gospel. G4 inmates lead Discovery Groups in prison blocks Jack can’t access. Other inmates take the place of those whose access is also limited.