I don’t know a lot about Justin, but here are a few things that I do know. Justin is from Milwaukee. He’s black. He’s been in prison for almost six years. And by the grace of God, Justin is a Christian.
Now, Justin wasn’t always a Christian. Not too long ago in fact, Justin had been searching for peace with God through the teachings of Islam. At our Bible study one evening, Justin told us about his experience with Islam.
Because Justin is black, there was a lot of peer pressure to join the Islamic study group when he arrived at the prison. The Islamic believers have made considerable inroads in all the prisons, especially with African-Americans. Justin joined their study group and even continued to study the Islamic faith after he was transferred to another Prison. For nearly two years, Justin diligently and faithfully studied the teachings of Islam.
But then, almost as quickly as he had joined the Islamic faith, Justin dropped out of their study group. No matter how diligently he studied the teachings of Islam and the writings of Mohammed, no matter how faithfully he tried to conform his life to Islam’s rules, no matter how much time and effort he expended, nagging doubts about his salvation remained. No matter what Justin did, he always wondered if it was good enough. He was always afraid that Allah was not pleased with him. It was at this point in his story that Justin said, “There is no peace in the Islamic faith. But this,” Justin continued, tapping his Bible, “this is peace with God.”
By the grace of God, Justin knows about peace with God through faith in Jesus. He believes in Jesus as his Savior from sin. He believes that what we could not do, Jesus has done. He trusts that because of Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death on the cross, all his sins are completely forgiven.
Justin knows that he is “not guilty” before a holy God. He is at peace with God, because God’s own peace is his through faith in Jesus. And he shares this good news of peace with God through the Savior Jesus with others.
Being a Christian isn’t always easy, especially in prison where the majority, unfortunately, do not believe in Christ Jesus as their Savior. Many unbelievers do their best to pressure or intimidate believers not to attend church services, Bible classes, read their Bible or share their faith.
Justin, by the grace of God, was led from the darkness of unbelief into the light of peace with the triune God. Unfortunately, the devil is working overtime to lead the searching toward an unfulfilling faith in a false god.
As your chaplain, I share the Gospel with inmates in various prisons across the state. Despite all the seeming inroads that various sects, faiths and denominations are making in the prison system, I am constantly reminded that our God is almighty and always prevails over lies, deceit and hate. His Son, Jesus Christ, has won salvation for those who believe in Him.
By His grace, people like Justin continue to find peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Chaplain Charles Iles, Sr.