Last night I had the moving experience of preaching in a Muskegon prison. My former student Craig Curtis is doing a stellar job as the prison chaplain, and he invited me to come preach on the topic of hell. I asked whether the prisoners had heard of Love Wins, and I was told that they didn’t care much for it, as they have little patience for anything that doesn’t come directly from Scripture. When you’ve hit rock bottom, you need to hear the voice of God, not one person’s ruminations that often contradict Scripture (also what Barth learned in his Safenwil pastorate when World War I broke out).
Chuck Colson has preached at this prison a few times–most notably on Easter last year–and his influence is palpable. Craig is leading a select group through Prison Fellowship’s TUMI curriculum, and several told me afterwards how much they are learning and growing from his teaching.
Bottom line: it’s wonderful to worship with a redeemed group of 75 prisoners, singing “I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain,” because they sing like they mean it, as if they desperately need it to be true. God is working in our prisons, and if you ever get the chance to preach there, or even to worship there, take it. There’s nothing else quite like it.