The service began as young men with very quiet and somber expressions filed in single file and found a seat.
As we watched them walk I wonder what they expect. I watch as new faces join the regular faces I see each week.
I smile and shake hands with the regulars. And I notice one is missing. One we won't see again. I voice a silent prayer for the sweet young man that left yesterday. I say a silent pray that God watches over him and protects him. I pray that he stays strong in his new found faith.
As the first video begins I smile as they bob their heads to the music. As they smile as they watch. I smile as the video shares a subtle message of faith and trust in God. And I silently thank God for directing us and helping us find videos that have a message and that speak in 'their' language.
For the last 2 1/2 years I have watched the faces come and go. I have watched and listened to the music that is prayed over and chose specifically to speak to this group of young men. A group that has been placed in a low security state prison facility.
Ours is a different kind of service. Ours is a different kind of congregation. Ours is a group searching for something. Many are not even sure what it is they are searching for.
But, we know. We know that it is the love of Jesus that they want. It is the love of Jesus that they need.
And even though sometimes it is hard. Even though sometimes it is a struggle. We go on. We continue. Every week we look forward to going to church.
We don't look forward to or expect to get fed in the usual way. Because we are the 'feeders' but, as we leave we realize each week we've been fed too.
When we read prayer requests like this . . .
"Lord, I ask for your forgiveness and to free all my sins. Lord, please forgive everything I've done. Please give me strength to do better."
"Dear heavenly father, I just ask you to help me take it one day at a time. Keep me strong and out of trouble. Amen.".
For it is my Fathers will that everyone who sees his Son and believes on him should have eternal life- that I should raise him at the Last Day John 6:40
(The Living Bible)