Sometimes being in ministry is like putting a message in a bottle and then sealing it up and throwing it into the sea.
People come and bless us by allowing us into their lives. We ask the Lord what to pray over them or counsel them to do and then it’s in that person. Some will act on what we give them and some will not. I usually never know what happened in their lives later. I simply release them to the Lord like throwing into the sea a bottle containing a message.
In the mid-1990’s I was Pastor for Prison Ministries for the Encourager Church of Houston and one my friends, Lynne’ Griffin came to me and told me part of her life story. She then asked me to do something for her. I have, with her permission, reproduced a testimony she has written about what happened.
Lynne’ gave this testimony at the Encourager Church once while we were in Houston for our Houston-area ministry open house one year. I was blessed to be able to stand on the platform with this courageous Christian and hold her hand as she completed one of the stories of my own ministry.
This is a testimony about the power of forgiveness. For many years I have taught how forgiveness releases me from bondage as well as releasing the other person from bondage. Both people are set free when we choose to forgive.
Nine years ago my little brother was murdered. About two years later the murderers were caught and put in jail. For the next 18 months they waited in jail and God walked me through forgiveness and healing. Just before the trial God placed within me a deep compassion for the two murderers and a burden to make sure they had a chance to receive Christ. I asked Mike McInerney to go to San Antonio and witness to these two guys. Through the financial support of the men’s prayer group and the prayer support of many others, he went.
Mike came back with the feeling that all he said fell on deaf ears. There was no positive response from either one of the guys. Over the next few months the burden for them would swell up at times and we would pray for their salvation again.
Now, 6 years later, Mike McInerney was ministering within the prison system and was stopped by an inmate. The inmate was one of the murderers that killed my brother. He said that when Mike came to San Antonio he didn’t understand a word he said and didn’t care. Yet, after he left, the words Mike spoke drove him crazy. 6 months later he was saved. Now 6 years later he is active within his Christian walk and is an assistant to the chaplain in the prison.
The Lord said His word never returns void. This shows the power of forgiveness, the power of healing, the power of prayer and the power of God’s Holy word. Forgiveness truly does set us free.
Thank you Encourager Church, friends, Mike and the men’s prayer group for your loving support.
Lynne’ Griffin and family
When I went to San Antonio to see those two men I really only had a few goals in my mind. As always, I wanted to represent the Lord in what I did. I also wanted to honor Lynne’ and what the Lord had done in her. Up to then I had never seen such forgiveness; I still haven’t seen much forgiveness even among Christians. How many people have been so touched by the Lord that they are desperate to see the killers of a family member saved?
I left San Antonio with mixed emotions that have since become very familiar to me. First, there is the sense of satisfaction that the Lord sent me to do something: proclaim the Good News as well as I knew how. Then, there is the letdown knowing that much of it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. In this lifestyle, pain is part of the package. Rubbing shoulders with people that may never choose to receive God’s gift of salvation brings with it a unique kind of spiritual pain. I take comfort, though, in knowing that the Lord Jesus knows this pain and shares it with those of us who regularly fish for souls.
Why write about this today? I want to encourage you to do what you think the Lord is telling you to do – even if you can’t see any good coming from it. Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s word never returns void….or empty. Nothing is wasted in His economy. Do it, because He said to…..no matter what good you can see in it.
You never know. One day you may get to experience the delight I felt when a prisoner grabbed my shirt and said, “You’re Mike McInerney! You came to visit me in jail in San Antonio. Let me tell you what God has done in my life since then.”
"...I was in prison and you came to Me." (Matthew 25:36b)