MAN: Are you heading toward Lake County?
ME: Why do you ask?
MAN: My car broke down and I’m looking for a ride home.
ME: Okay, hop in.
As we drove through rush hour traffic, he told me the story of his life. He had just gotten out of prison for shooting a man. Even though it was “self-defense,” he was sent away for fifteen years. He was hoping for parole after three years, but the judge had since died and his attorney had left the area. With nobody familiar with his situation, parole was denied.
All of this turned out to be God’s hand in his life. If he had been released earlier, he would have left prison no better than when he had arrived. One day, a warden invited him to take part in a Christian ministry for inmates. Although he had visited the program for the food they offered, he saw something in the lives of the volunteers that eventually touched his own life.
Because of the traffic, we were in the car for at least an hour. But this also was of God. As we travelled, I had the opportunity to tell him how God had worked in my life and saved me. After dropping him off, I called my wife (who was visiting my parents in Columbus) to tell her the story. She told me that she had prayed specifically that I would have the opportunity to tell someone about Christ. What an interesting day!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
P.S. I visited the prison ministry web site this morning and found a testimony that sounded similar to this fellow’s:
I only came because I heard that there would be good food, but I didn’t want anybody in my face about God. But as I began to hear these men talk about how God loved me so much that he sent Jesus, His own son to die in my place so that I would be free, something started to happen to me. I began to experience a kind of love that I had never seen or felt before. I now understand that it was the love of God, offered to me by His people. I made a mess of my life and ended up in prison. My family abandoned me and society had written me off. I was worthless, and I felt that way. Life had lost all meaning for me – I was like a balloon with nothing inside. But these … men fed me with the Word of God, and now I hunger after Him. I will be forever grateful to [them] for showing me that the way to freedom is through the cross of Christ.