The term jail house Christianity has always fascinated me so I set out to see if it was real and what it was. But let's start with something closer to home which is distress Christianity that starts during any emergency or disaster, sickness, or failure. During this type of conversion the people find themselves in a position they cannot handle. Whatever it is they are over their heads; it could be a divorce, bankruptcy, a death in the family, or a love one with a terminal disease. Sometimes it takes the form of a friend or family member committing some atrocious act that brings negative publicity. Whatever the case, it's a load they cannot carry and must give to someone else.
I have heard these conversions called S.D.S. which stands for shock, denial, substitute. The initial shock brings grieve, depression and a sense of hopelessness, sadness and sometimes anger, this is the most dangerous stage to be in and is the hardest to come out of. The denial comes next and is the easiest of the three. In this stage one just refuses to believe what is happening or thinks that at any moment the bad news will go away. This brings in a false hope or false faith or just wishful thinking. Next is the substitute which can be anything that will help you carry the burden. This can be a family member or friend, a cause or religion. Some have found a new love for art, music, or a new career; it could be a new love affair or sports. By substituting the problem or bad news they are closing the door on the load and opening up a door they can handle.
In a hospital the dying have seen angels, have talked with God and little children have seen Jesus sitting by their beds. People have spoken of going to heaven and seeing their friends then coming back to earth to talk about it. Mothers have sat with their sick children and seen angels comforting them with words of encouragement. People who have been lost in the woods or in the mountains and are ready to give up have had encounters with the heavenly host who have provided comfort till they were rescued. Men have been lost at sea for months and survived thanks to help provided by God in the form of angelic beings who have become their friends till help arrived. All of these people have made commitments to God while bargaining for their survival or afterwards in appreciation for his help.
Now it is God who has met the need and provided for assistance, it is he who has come down to the human level and made himself known. It is a colossal grace package to raise this person's faith so he can overcome his difficulties. God responds to the despair with supernatural faith and grace to carry the individual through to the next day or next step in his trial. In pain the person reaches out to God like never before and he responds like never before with power and love. This is the difference between one man's failure and one men's success; one has reached out to the Most High. He gets to be friends with God if only for a while and knows, that he knows, that God is real.
When the person leaves the hospital or is rescued from his tragedy he still believes he will see God again and will talk to his new found friend. But that is not the case, I used to think it was the human who left God, but now I know it is God who backs away. You see he came in that moment of despair and hopelessness and met the need, once the need is not there, he is gone. He, the person of God is by faith but when there is a special need he will be there in person to meet that need. What is still a mystery is how much did the human suffering contribute to that person reaching out beyond the human realm and bringing God down. Or how much did God contribute to coming down on his own.
Now we have the prison conversion or jail house Christianity. Prison is the most demonic place on earth, it is the one place where demons love to live and play. Satan has no greater pleasure than to torment and bring despair on inmates in prison. These people are already suffering and in great pain and sorrow, but to this we must add the cruelty of the demonic realm which wreaks havoc day and night on these poor souls. Men who have lost everything because of some bad judgment or mistakes are easy picking for tormenting spirits and the powers of darkness. There is no pity in the spirit world, evil spirits reduce men to animals and fiends while enjoying every moment of it. To a demon success is watching a prisoner come to the end of his rope and attempt suicide.
There are few choices behind bars but there is one choice made by a few men and that is to follow Jesus regardless of the cost. Because of the time available some men do nothing but read the bible and pray which creates a very strong bond with the Lord. I have talked to men who have seen Jesus sitting on their beds the night they had decided to kill themselves. He met the need and talked them out of it. In their despair they pray down the power of God and the anointing becomes as thick as pea soup. God is there every day and every hour, he is on them as if he were a shirt they had just put on. They see him, smell him, and touch him as if he were flesh all over again.
There is a real spiritual war on earth that few like to speak of but in prison it is magnified one thousand percent. Here God and Satan battle for the lives of these men and mayhem is the norm, few in prison take on this battle, but a small percentage do combat in spiritual matters. The ones that do are targets of Satan and his hordes, whether spirits or humans. But these are the ones who God marks out for special revelations and fellowship with Him. If it were not for God's grace and commitment to these dungeons of death no one would make it out alive. But his grace is sufficient, and where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.
When one of these prayer warriors comes out of prison the despair is over, the need has been met by the Lord and the hours spent in prayer and bible reading has been reduce to a fraction. Some have large expectations that dissolve in the real world and God starts to retreat from their lives. The burden has been lifted from their shoulders and the need is no longer the same. We could say that it is a fifty, fifty thing, they no longer call and he no longer answers. They did not give up on Jesus and throw away the bible as some call it, no, the need is no longer life threating and they don't have to come out of themselves to find God and his goodness. The same can be said of the hospital patent, who could no longer endure one more hour without Gods intervention and afterward wonders if it was all true.
This story was told to me by an inmate who was doing life in Atlanta Penitentiary. One morning in total despair he was talking to Jesus as he walked past the hospital. Two men were leading a blind man who had both eyes shot out during a drug raid by the FBI. When he stopped to look, Jesus stood next to him and told him to go and lay his hands on the blind man's eyes and that he would give him back his eyes. This man was so shocked at hearing this and seeing Jesus that he just said "no, I can't do that." Again Jesus said "go and put your hands on his eyes and he will be healed." "Lord if I do that I will be seen as a crazy man and sent away to a hospital myself, I can't do it," he told the Lord. Again the Lord commanded him and the man said no and walked of. That was twenty two years ago and he tells me that he remembers it often and wonders what would have happened if he had obeyed Jesus.
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