God At Work Through IM

Gathering His Own

Gathering His Own

At the end of the book of Acts, Luke recounts how God made use of hurricane winds that blew Paul’s ship some 600 miles off course and shipwrecked him off the tiny, isolated island of Malta in order to spread the message of the gospel (Acts 27:14-28:10).

While the Scriptures never tells us anything more about the 275 men with Paul who survived the shipwreck, or all the people on that remote little island who heard the gospel while Paul was there, we do know that God’s Word does not “return to Him empty” (Is. 55:11). God is always gathering His own, bringing them to faith through the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes that means blowing His messenger 600 miles off course, and sometimes it means using a seemingly chance encounter at a church 60 miles away, to steer a messenger to someone God wants to hear the gospel.  

When the service was over at the church where I had been invited to preach, a member of the congregation came up and asked, “Did I hear you say that you teach a Bible class at Kettle Moraine Correctional?” “Every Wednesday,” I replied. In response, the woman began telling me about a young man named Darnel, whom she had befriended when he began visiting their church. 

Darnel had only attended a handful of times before his past caught up to him, and he ended up in prison. Having kept in touch with Darnel, she recognized the prison I mentioned in my sermon as the place where Darnel was serving his sentence, which was why she sought me out. “Would you be able to visit Darnel the next time you go into the prison” she asked? I assured her that I would do my best to connect with him through our office and suggested that she write to Darnel, as well, and tell him about my Bible class at the prison. 

Two weeks later, Darnel joined my Bible class and was very eager to hear about his Savior. About two years after that, Darnel was confirmed and faithfully continued to study God’s Word with me for almost five years before he was transferred to another prison. Looking back on it now, I realize that God had used a seemingly chance encounter with a parishioner some 60 plus miles from the prison where I served to connect me with a young man to whom he wanted the message of the gospel to reach. Once again, God had been faithful to His promise. To paraphrase Isaiah: His word did not return empty but accomplished what He desired and achieved the purpose for which He sent it.

Day after day, God continues to use Institutional Ministries to bring His gospel to souls like Darnel who are living on islands surrounded, not by water, but by barbed wire and electric fences. Here we proclaim the promises of God to those who have shipwrecked their lives with the poor choices they have made. Yet, even here, in these places isolated from society, God continues to gather His own through the preaching of His Word.




Ministry Behind the Walls

Institutional Ministries is a nonprofit organization established in 1901 that carries out behind-the-walls ministry by shining the light of Jesus’ love into hearts.