Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 1, 2010

My Time in Jail . . . and Prison

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 12:00 am

I am sure that those who know me personally are wondering about  the title of this blog.  Some of you were probably saying, “I am not surprised.  I’m glad he is finally confessing!”  I am confessing, but you may be disappointed!

I have spent a  lot of time in jail . . . and even some time in prison.  But, before you jump to conclusions, read where, when, and why I was in jail.

When I surrendered to preach, I wanted to preach!  But who would ask someone with no experience?  In my excitement and joy, I approached the county sheriff about having services in the county jail.  He was open to the possibility, but explained that they could not bring the prisoners together because they had no chapel area.  I was not to be discouraged.  I asked him about my going from cell to cell.  He saw no objection to that, and then explained that I could have 15 to 20 men in what they called the “Bull Pen.”  Those who had been arrested on Saturday night for drunkenness or disorderly conduct were placed in this large cell.  In fact, he explained that they had two “Bull Pens.”

He spoke with the head jailer and arranged for me to meet him.  The jailer was pleased that I wanted to do this.  However, he explained that I needed to be prepared for rejection, interruptions, and jeers.  Also, he explained that they had an area of cells for women and that I could also visit there if I was interested.

With all systems go, I began to prepare for this opportunity.  Within days, I had secured several people to aid me.  Although there would be no musical instruments, I enlisted a singer who could make music on his own!  I also had another individual who was prepared to speak one-on-one to those in the cells if requested.

We were blessed with this ministry.  I began to get experience in preaching and personal witnessing.  I would deliver my message some six or eight times each Sunday morning.  From the Bull Pens to the individual cells, I shared the gospel.  Our team would position ourselves so that we could minister to 6 or 8 cells at a time.  We did the same in the women’s section.  And yes . . . we did encounter some verbal abuse, but the majority were respectful and attentive.

And the music?  One of the Bull Pens was for African-Americans, for in those days the jail was still segregated.  My friend who led the singing could not keep up with the music that came from that Bull Pen.  The glorious sound filled the entire jail.

I have had the privilege on other occasions to minister in jails where there was a chapel and the inmates would gather.  In these later times, provision were made for chaplains, and these individuals would invite me to speak.  It occurred both in the men’s jail as well as the ladies.

My time in prison was quite different.  I will always be blessed for the experience.  In Korea, I had the privilege to speak to some 80 inmates.  They were hardened criminals who would spend most of their life in prison.  As they were brought to a central place, these men sat on the floor, in lineal rows.  They were extremely interested.  As I concluded the message, I gave an appeal for a response to the gospel.  I was very hard on what the decision would mean.  I explained that it would not increase their chance of release, and I was emphatic about the possibility of their being ostracized if they became a Christian.  With the strong warnings, I asked those who would respond to the gospel, receiving Christ by faith as their Savior and Lord, to stand.  One by one they began to stand, until 60 of that number were standing.

Glory!  That is all that can be said.  What a hallelujah time in prison!  I would relish the joy of going to prison any time for that possible response!  Yes, jail and prison time has greatly influenced my ministry.  Whatever might have been accomplished in those early days of my ministry perhaps cannot be measured.  But one thing I know.  God used it to meet the fervor of a young preacher, and to teach him so much about ministry.  Thank you, Lord.

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners . . . .”  (Hebrews 13:3)



1 Comment »


    Comment by DUDLEY HENRY — April 1, 2010 @ 8:42 am | Reply

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