45 minutes north of my house is a large kid’s prison. It is for youth ages 12 through 19. Most are ages 15 through 17. It is called the Gainesville State School, but believe me, it is a very secure prison. It is complete with the high inward curving electric fence and razor wire. Every vehicle coming out is scanned underneath with mirrors on poles to make sure no one is escaping in the undercarriage.
The worst of the worst are sent there. It is under the auspices of The Texas Youth Commission, an agency of the Government of Texas.
This prison is rather unique in that each youth is confined to his own individual room. In almost every case it is the first time these youth have stopped “running on the streets” and been confined to a room where they can think about their life and where it may be headed.
For the past 20 years I have had the privilege of presenting the Gospel to each youth that comes into that facility. In most cases, I see them two at a time in private, glassed-in rooms. When presented properly in a high- quality fashion after much prayer by several people, almost every one makes a decision to accept Christ and have God in their life.
If you ever wondered whether there really is a God out there, if you could be with me and see those kinds of boys just change right there in front of your eyes and pray with tears in their eyes, you would know that there had to be something there other than just my words to cause such a change. It amazes me every single time.
Seeing them two at a time seems better than singly, since making a decision about God in front of a peer tends to cement the decision and make it more meaningful.
I usually see between 10 and 12 each week, though more on some weeks. If I have to be gone, like out of the country, I must “double-up” on the days until I have caught-up with all who have come into the prison while I was gone.
I follow up with a letter to each boy. I include several stories with each letter. They love the stories, especially ones with an emotional message. In the Appendix of this book I have included a long list of the stories that they like best.
Some of these prison boys have experienced things that I will never experience, but from whom I have learned much. Some of them claim to be Devil Worshipers, but it is usually to gain attention from their peers. However, I have met a few there who have delved deep into “the real thing”. And what is interesting to me is that, without exception, every one of them as renounced Devil worship. When I have asked them to explain it to me, they all say pretty much the same thing. They say the Devil is powerful, and it is logical to assume that if you give yourself over to worshiping Him, he will take care of you on this earth. No. They say that the farther you go with the Devil, the more bad things happen to you. When they finally realized this, it caused them to flee from the whole thing.
I have literally thousands of letters from these youth, mostly thanking me for introducing them to the real God and telling me how their life has changed. Also, I thought it would be helpful to you for me to include in the Appendix approximately the same words that I share with these youth that God uses to convict them and guide them to make the decision to accept Christ. Without being dramatic, I honestly believe that God showed me just the right words.
If you have someone that you want to help make that same decision, I encourage you to try those same words that are in the Appendix. Of course, God does all the saving, but it can be such a privilege to be the one saying the words. (Approximately the same words shared with each youth over the past 20 yeas is included here.)
Approximately the Same Words Shared with the Prison Boys:
It is really boring in here for you guys; would you like me to stretch your brain a little?
What if the sun were 1/2 the distance to the earth than it is now? It could have been.
Yes. It would be about 850 degrees F. out there. Everything would be burned up.
But the sun could have been any distance…… so close that we are burned up, or so far away that we all would be frozen to death. Just a small fraction of its present distance either way and we would all be dead. Makes you wonder how it got in that perfect spot.
If we are going to stretch your brain we are going to have to make it a little harder!
What if the moon were 1/2 as close to the earth as it is now? It is not hot or cold; it is going around the earth like a big rock.
Yes, it would look a little larger, and it would look a lot brighter at night.
What else does the moon do for us right now?
When the moon goes over the ocean (and 75% of the earth is ocean), it pulls the water up a little. When the moon goes down, the water goes back down. This makes the tides in the ocean. Without the tides we would have no currents in the ocean. Without them both, the scientists tell us that almost no rain would fall upon the earth. They help with evaporation and get the clouds over to us.
But if the moon were 1/2 as close as now, the tides would cover the highest mountains on earth twice a day. A 2,000 foot wall of water would sweep across us twice a day. It would wipe away all buildings, trees, people, everything. Soon, even all the land would be washed away.
So the moon is just the perfect distance to keep us alive with rain, but not kill us with the tides. But it could have been any distance.
Are you staying with me? Shall we continue?
It is a little over 24,000 miles around the whole earth. Yet, it takes 24 hours for the earth to make one revolution. When you divide 24 hours into 24,000 miles, you find that we must be traveling 1,000 miles per hour at this very moment…..about the speed of a rifle bullet. It does not feel like it does it? But we are. When you get up about 35,000 feet in a plane and hit that jet stream where the air that is going with us sheers against the other air that is not, then you know it!
So…..what if we were only going 1/2 that fast, say 500 miles per hour? That is still fairly fast.
Well, yes, then every day would be 48 hours long. So what would that be like?
You know how hot it can get in August in your home town at about 4:00 in the afternoon, over 100 degrees F sometimes. What if on a day like that you had another 24 hours of sunshine before the night came?
It would get up above 200 degrees. All the crops would be burned up. It would catch the roof on fire….boil the water right out of the swimming pool.
And in January when that north wind whips through your town, you know how cold it can get at about 4:00 in the morning. What if, on a day like that, you had another 24 hours of darkness before the sun came up? It would get 100 degrees below zero. You would all freeze.
So…..it seems that the earth rotates at just the perfect speed for us to be alive, but not be burned up or frozen.
But it could be rotating at any speed. It happens to be rotating at just the perfect speed for you to be alive.
When we look out the window on a sunny day, the sky it looks what color. Sure, it is blue. Why is it not pink or green or black or white. It just looks blue. Let me explain it to you. The earth is surrounded by the atmosphere. And it is only 5 miles thick and then it is all gone. 5 miles is nothing out is space, like a little egg shell around the earth. When you look through those 5 miles it looks blue. When you get outside the 5 miles it looks black You have seen those pictures that the Astronauts take, always black back of them. Why does it look blue to us?
You are looking out through our atmosphere that surrounds the earth like a lovely blanket. We breath the oxygen in it and the trees breath the carbon dioxide. Actually, it looks blue because the sun is reflecting off the blue ocean and reflecting up into that atmosphere. We are called the blue planet.
But the scientists tell us that if it were just 10% thicker, its weight, plus the present atmosphere would crush us to death. You have 15 pounds of pressure on every inch of your body right now. It would not take much more to bust your bones.
But do you know what would happen if it were just 15% or 20% thinner? That is what is interesting to me.
There are thousands of meteorites that are trying strike the earth every minute. Your mom called them “shooting stars” when you were little. Right now they just barley burn up before they get to us. The friction coming through the atmosphere burns them up. A few get through, but not very many. But if that atmosphere layer were thinner, they would most all get through. They would wipe us out like bombs and bullets. Most are not much bigger than a very small pebble, but if a pebble hits you at 25,000 miles an hour, it blows your ass off, or something off.
But the atmosphere could have been any thickness. It happens to be the perfect thickness for us to be alive.
I can give you a 100 more like these, but if you solve mathematically for the probability of just these four arranged perfectly for us to be alive. You get over 150 billion to one that they could not have all happened together by accident at the same time.
If one is honest, the only answer one can honestly come to is that there has to be an Intelligence that guides all of this…..an author. You can call that God or whatever you wish, but it has to be there.
But indulge me just one more….one of my favorites:
The earth goes around the sun at a perfect angle of 23 degrees. That is what gives us our seasons. Without them, most crops would not grow.
It takes one year to go around.
The scientists tell us that if the earth ever got even two degrees off this perfect angle (either 21 or 25 degrees), vapors would move north and south from the equator and the ice caps at the poles would move all the way down to the equator…..the whole earth would turn to a block of ice.
Just two degrees…..you would think that it would wobble that much.
In fact, they think that it got off just 1/2 degree a few times in history, and that is what made the ice ages that you studied about in school.
Yes! There has to be an author…..an Intelligence that holds our life in the palm of His hand. That is the only conclusion that a truly honest scientist can draw. The mathematics are too overwhelming to say that we just adapted to these conditions. The Intelligence that is the author of this universe some of us do call God!
I have a group of friends down there in another dorm. They like to ask me tough questions. They say: “given what we have studied about the earth and the rest of the universe, we know that there has to be a God; but tell us, why did He make people? He did not have to make people.” They are just messing things up. Why didn’t he just stop with the bees and animals and the butterflies?
What would you tell them?
Here is what I told them: I said…..”Can you get a picture in your head of the one time in your life when the feelings between the people in your life were the very, very best? Maybe it was Christmas time. You were just a little guy. Your grandma had a big turkey cooking in the oven. They had all of those presents under the tree for you. It was really nice! You knew it would not stay that way. Things would get messed up. You would really wish to freeze those feelings just as they are in your ‘picture’ and keep them that way all of the time.”
I told them: “God made people to have those same feelings between Himself and them, only 1,000 even 10,000 times better…..through all of eternity.”
Then the boys said back to me: “That is great. We love that, but we have been reading the Bible and we have looked around out in the free world and we know that compared to the perfect purity and mathematical correctness of the Intelligence that runs and controls this whole universe, people have become so messed up, so dirtied up, so filthy compared to the perfect purity of the Intelligence that runs this universe….. There is no way that man can be with Him as He planned.
“Every man is too dirty to come into the presence of such purity.”
And I told them…..“that is correct. That is why God had to make a way to clean us up. He sent His only son to die for our sins as a way to cleanse us so that we could be able to spend eternity with Him.”
However, the boys had another question that I thought was really interesting. They said: “Man if God is so smart that He could make this whole universe; if he is so smart that he could make our bodies as complicated as they are………like your eyes take in light images, flip them upside down, send a chemical message to your brain, and your brain sends an electrical image to your legs and tells them to run because you saw a bear chasing you……otherwise that bear is going to eat your ass off, man”. So I said OK, dudes, I know how smart God is……….What is your question?
They wanted to know: “Well, if God is so smart that He could create the whole universe and the people in it…..why didn’t He just make all the people to be perfectly good and always make the right and perfect decisions? Then Adam and Eve would not have messed up. The Devil would have no power, for we would always make the right decisions. Then it would be like Heaven on earth…..you would not need any fences, any locks on your door, no police, no prisons.”
One boy even said, “You would not even need to wear clothes.” And I laughed and said, “Why?” And he said, “Because, no one would have any bad thoughts.” And I said, “well, that is right.”
“So, why didn’t God do it that way? He could have. Then everyone would be in Heaven with Him as He planned.”
So, how would you answer the boys? Why didn’t God do it that way? He could have.
Yes, I answered it, and here is my answer to them. I asked them: “What if you had a girlfriend, and all that she did, and all that she could do was just what your mind thought for her to do….and nothing else.”
Oh! I got some big grins. They could think of “lovey” things for this girl…..fantasy things.
Then they thought some more, and said: “No! That would not work!”
And I said: “Why?”
And they said: “Because that would be like having a robot or a machine for a girlfriend. What makes the magic and the feelings between me and my girl is that she chose me, though she could have chosen some one else………. and I chose her, though I could have chosen some one else.” That is what makes the ‘feelings’………..with no feelings there is no fun!
Oh, then the light went on in their heads!
The question was…..”Why didn’t God just make us to always make the perfect decisions?”
Because (just like with the girlfriend) He had to make us so that we could either choose Him or not choose Him, or (just like with the girlfriend) the fantastic relationship and feelings that He desires with us through all eternity could not be there. God could not get feelings back from a robot!
And the whole history of man is that he has chosen most everything but God!
I don’t know how it is in your town or where you have been “hanging out”, but it appears to me that God made people with a big, huge empty place down inside of them.
I am sure that it was His original intention for His Spirit Power to come into people and fill-up that empty place and make them feel full. But when that big place down inside is empty, it really eats on guys and drives them.
And most of your and my friends out there are not just running around; they are racing around trying to fill that empty place with something…..they think that if only they can get enough money, enough sex, the right wheels to ride on, enough good times and play, enough drugs. ……then that empty place will feel full. Some think if they can just have a wild enough good time, it will fill up the empty place. But it doesn’t. Some think if they all get together in a gang it will fill it up. But it doesn’t.
But the Living God created us and put the empty place there. Only He the Living Person of God can fill it and make you feel full!
I would like to propose to you that there are four Spiritual Laws. They exist just as sure as there is a law of gravity, but they are spiritual laws.
The First Law is ——-
That God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
The Second Law is ——
Man is sinful and separated from God. Thus he can not know and experience God’s love and the wonderful plan that He has for your life.
As we discussed earlier, God is so perfectly pure and man has become so dirty, man cannot get to God on his own merits. Jesus said no man has or will live a good enough life on his own to stand in God’s presence. However, God did not give up on us.
The Third Law is ——–
Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
God actually invaded human history in the form of a man to bridge the gap between the Perfect God and sinful man. How his dying on the cross and shedding his blood to wash us clean enough to be in Heaven, and then rose again on the third day to conquer death for all time is the greatest mystery of the universe and the crowning , supreme gift of all time.
Yet, some still have trouble understanding the necessity of being washed clean. Let me see if I can think of an example to make that “cleaning-up business more clear for both of us?
I know!!! The first time that I went to China , years ago, they gave me a banquet in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square just as they did for Nixon and Kissinger. It was so formal and fancy……… probably more so than going to dinner in the White House in our country. They had real linen table covers, real crystal glasses, plates painted with real gold, ivory chopsticks inlaid with gold. That dinner had 22 different entrées. Just one was a whole roast pig for each table of eight people. You would have had a great time there. You are probably a “professional eater” like I am. I hated to leave.
But the next day I had to be traveling on a train across that part of China . Suddenly, a young man came and sat beside me and wished to converse in English which he had been studying. See , China back then was still a Communist country. Everyone at that time was back of the fence there. They did not want you having a bible. They did not want any churches. The government controlled everything. Every family got only one baby. No more. So a person did not ever know they were hearing the truth, and I was probably the first outside person that he had ever met.
Any way, after a while he got his courage up and said to me: “I believe that there is a God.”
And I said: “Oh”, for I did not want to get him into any trouble. I knew he was not supposed to believe that.
Then he said: “I believe that God’s Spirit can live in a man.” And I thought, wow, you have learned a lot over here without a bible or any such thing.
Then things not really serious, for he said: “Can you and will you show me how to do that?” He wanted God’s Spirit to come live in him and fill up his empty place.
It was getting noisy where we were and there was a Communist lady in her uniform trying to listen, so we moved out between the cars on the train like in a spy movie.
And wow, God’s Spirit did come into the young man. It was an incredible thing to see as he just changed right there in front of my eyes and shed great tears of joy. I wish you could have seen it.
Of course, only God’s Spirit could have changed him like that. Certainly, just my words did not. However, what helped that Spirit get through to him was one little story that I told him. I do think that God really put the words of that story directly into my mouth so that he could understand. If you wish, I will share that same little story with you.
OK, I asked him if he had ever been “camping”. Then I said: “Oh, you wouldn’t know what that means, that doesn’t translate into Chinese.” However, he quickly said: “I have a master’s degree in English, certainly I know what going camping means…..you sleep out in the woods under the trees, you cook your food over a wood fire, you catch a wild pig and you roast him and eat him.”
So I said: “OK. Let us assume that you go camping for two whole weeks. You sleep out under the trees, you have a great time, you catch your wild pig and roast him and eat him. He is really good.”
And he said: “Oh, that would be fun, and I could get away from that dorm and all those guys where I live at college.”
Then I said: “But the whole second week that you are there, you really begin thinking how great a shower would feel and clean clothes. You start just dreaming about them.
“You stay the whole two weeks; you have a great time, but by now you are really dirty and you smell really bad, and it is time for you to go back. You start the long walk back to the dormitory where you live with your friends. You have had a grand time, but all the way back you are thinking and dreaming about how wonderful that shower and those clean clothes will feel.
“Finally, you arrive back and you see that all of your friends are getting on this bus. They are all dressed-up, fancy. You ask what is happening and they tell you—–’Oh, we have been invited to a banquet in The Great Hall of the People…..It is the chance of a lifetime for us. We have been getting ready all afternoon…..getting our hair combed just right, getting our shoes shined, and our ties on straight.’
“And you say: ‘Yes, you fellows really look great.’
“And they say: ‘Haven’t you heard!’
“And you say: ‘I haven’t heard anything. I have been out in the woods for two weeks!’
“And they say: ‘You were invited to this banquet too!’
“And you say: ‘No!’
“And they reply: ‘Yes! But it starts in just 15 minutes. We are already late leaving. Look!!! The bus is leaving right now. Jump on! You must go! It is the chance of a lifetime! You don’t have time to change or have a shower or get cleaned up. Hurry, hurry, hurry!’”
Oh! How could you go to such a beautiful banquet with all of those dressed-up people as dirty and smelly as he was. Those bad-ass Communist guards would never let you through the gate.
But the young man saw what I was trying to show him. Don’t you see. God has prepared Heaven like a great banquet for all of us—-for all of Eternity. He wants all of us to be there. But how can we be there in such purity and splendor—-as dirty and filthy as we have become? No matter how much He might love us, it just could not happen. But that is what the Forth Law is about.
Thus, The Forth Spiritual Law:
We must each one, individually receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Then we can be in Heaven with Him, and know His love here and the wonderful
plan that he has for our life here.
It is not enough to just believe in Him. The Devil believes in Him, but the Devil will not be in Heaven. Jesus called such a decision “being born again”…..having our souls washed clean. He did all the “work” for us when He died on the cross. But we have to each one individually accept it like accepting a contract.
Here is a person. The dots represent all the things in his life. The chair represents the throne in his life…..who is king, who is in charge, who is boss? This person is like most people we know…..his self is on the throne. He is in charge of his own life. I don’t know whether he is doing a good job or not. He believes there a God. He prays sometimes. He even goes to church sometimes. But as far as his life is concerned; he is in charge, and God is outside.
However, Jesus said in the back of the Bible (Revelation 3:20): “Behold, I stand at the door of every man’s heart and I knock”. He will not break the door down or force His way in, but you can open the door of your heart and invite Him in. His Spirit Power can come in and change your whole life.
That is what this second person has done. He has asked God to be on the throne of his life. And the things in his life are now getting arranged around God. His self is still there, but it is not running things, not in charge, not in control anymore. He will still sin and mess-up sometimes, because he is still trapped in a human body…..but he is on a new and different road now.
Which one of these two people is you, ?
Which would you like for it to be?
If you wish to be the second person, and ask God into your life, and really be born again, you can do so right now. I would want you to very be serious, and plan for a turning in your life.
OK, I will pray for a few seconds, and then I will say some words that you can repeat after me, quietly, but out loud, straight to God, if you really mean them.
“Father God, we come before you now. And as it says in your Holy Book, if we meet here in Your Name, Your Spirit Power will be right here with us, and we know that this is true, for You do not lie. Father God, this young person wishes to come now and ask you into his heart and life. He wants his sins to be forgiven. He wants a turning in his life. He wants to be washed clean. He wants to be saved into Heaven, and he needs your Spirit Power living inside him to help him. So, he is going to come now, Father God, and quietly say these words, to You:
‘Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Right now I open the door of my heart and receive You as my Savior and my Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins, and for giving me eternal life. Now Lord, just take control of the throne of my life, and make me into the kind of person that you want me to be.
One thought on “Prison Boys”
So beautiful! God bless you!