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 convicted criminals from within the prison, started 37 Discovery Groups with over 300 men that multiplied to the 5th generation and baptized 13 inmates! Some are now even members of the CDM community. Here is Jack to tell the story in an interview from 2020!
Working Among Murderers & Child Molesters
Every prisoner is given a rating upon being accessioned into the prison system. A rating of G3 is reserved specifically for inmates convicted of murder and child molestation. If you think that's as bad as they come, you'd be wrong.
Meet the G4's.
On top of their already colorful rap sheet, these ambitious men have added assaulting an officer and other major infractions to their record during their stay in prison, placing them within one step of total solitary confinement. These men spend twenty-two hours of every day in their cells, and the two hours of free time they're allotted are spent under the watchful eyes of a guard detail who limit their interactions with others.
These are the men God called me to go and make disciples of.
The Most Hardened Criminal May Be a Person of Peace
Christ calls us to go and make disciples of all nations. That includes the hardest to reach places and peoples on the planet, so I refuse to let a G4 rating and limited accessibility keep me from inviting prisoners to read God’s Word.
I’ll never forget my first conversation with a G4 inmate. I was sitting across from a towering, six-foot-four, wall-of-a-man easily capable of strangling me from across the table with one hand tied behind his back. We'll call him Chris.
In the course of our conversation, Chris opened up to me about a recent death in his family. I could see it weighed heavily upon him and so I allowed him to use my phone to call his grandmother. During their call, I overheard his grandma tell him, like any good grandma would, that he needed to get his life together and get right with God.
“I heard what your grandmother said to you," I told Chris after he ended the call. "Would you like to talk more about spiritual things?”
He walked over and handed me back my phone. "Yes. I really would like to.”
Not too long after that first interview, we were reading God’s Word together in our Discovery Bible Study when his cellmate saw us and asked if he could join. Of course we let him sit down and check out what we were doing.
It soon became clear that Chris's cellmate was a Person of Peace, someone God was preparing to open doors for the gospel in the prison in a big way. He 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
A key principle of DMM is the idea of making disciples who make disciples who will be able to sustain themselves without consistent outside involvement. That's exactly what I got to see happen in the prison. While I started out facilitating the Discovery Bible Study with Chris and his cellmate, the inmates now facilitate their own Discovery Bible Studies. They don't need me at all anymore.
As part of the Discovery Bible Study process, the prisoners learn to obey God’s Word. After reading from Genesis, one inmate realized that he needed to repent from living in a homosexual relationship. He immediately 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, so I helped them create a Prayer Calendar. Together, they committed to praying with and for another inmate every day, and several even reached out to other prisoners and helped them develop Prayer Calendars of their own!
Inmates are even obeying the Great Commission and baptizing one another. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, three inmates have given their lives to Christ and been baptized by their fellow inmates. In one case, a G4 inmate baptized another G4!
Nothing Can Stop The Kingdom of God
Due to the strict limitations the prison system presses upon them, G4 believers must develop other leaders to carry the baton when they are denied clearance to meet with a new Discovery Group. The result of this is that the groups not only continue, but even thrive despite the absence of leaders.
When you make disciples who make disciples this way, persecution, pandemics, and prison limitations can’t stop you. What has happened in this Texas maximum security prison is proof of the unrelenting power of God's Kingdom. There are now more than 37 Discovery Groups comprised of more than 300 inmates that have multiplied over 5 generations. We've also seen 13 baptisms with more on the way.
Christ tells us in the Great Commission that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. And that's why we can go make disciples of all nations. As long as you don’t give up, nothing can stop you because nothing can stop Jesus, who is with us even to the end of the age. That’s why I’m not going to give up or let the inmate believers on my team give up.
The hardest places to reach often yield the greatest fruit. It's easy to assume that a prison like the one Jack visits probably houses the least righteous individuals on earth. Even so, God is working through Jack and his team in ways that are nothing short of miraculous! It's 2022 now, two years since this interview with Jack, and the number of Discovery Groups, believing inmates and baptisms within this prison has only grown. Greg, one of the men Jack discipled in prison is now an involved member of CDM's community!
Persons of Peace can be those you’d least expect. The first Person of Peace Jack met was a G4 inmate, a man who had doubled down on bad behavior and nearly earned himself complete solitary confinement. And it was this G4 inmate who would be the catalyst for a movement that would reach more than 300 of his fellow inmates. If this story teaches us anything, it's that God works through all kinds of people to accomplish His will.
When you empower leaders, nothing can stop the spread of the Gospel. What started out as a simple study between Jack and Chris, after a phone call with a concerned grandmother, has grown into a movement. G4 inmates lead Discovery Groups in prison blocks Jack can’t access, and other inmates take the lead when the G4's aren't free to attend. It's a system now resilient enough to sustain itself and multiply without Jack's involvement.