Thieves and Gamblers
In 1972 when the Lord Jesus opened the door for Bill Glass and his team to go into a prison to preach, he walked right in and built one of the most effective prison outreaches in the world. Many times I have gone to Bill’s Weekend of Champions (now called Behind The Walls) in Huntsville or other cities, joining hundreds of other volunteers.
Gifted athletes and entertainers captured the attention of the inmates, shared how Jesus had transformed their lives, and then in powerful, simple terms Bill would connect inmates with the Savior who died between two thieves, the Savior who prayed for His Father to forgive even the crowd hurling obscenities against Him and shooting dice for his clothes.
“Now two others, criminals, were led out with Him to be executed. And when they got to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals—one on the right and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.’ And they divided His garment by casting lots.“ - Luke 23:32-34
More than eight hundred years before Jesus hung between two thieves Isaiah, the Jewish prophet, gave God’s response to the Messiah’s death, “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
And more than a thousand years before the cross, King David wrote, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Psalm 22:17-18
What I found in the prisons on those Bill Glass weekends is that often thieves and gamblers are more open to hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them!” than the religious crowd who believes they’re plenty able to pay their own way. Personally, I know I’m getting far too religious when I stop trying to connect with the thieves and gamblers
LORD, my friend Bill Glass has spent his life sharing your message of forgiveness and grace with inmates. Now he’s suffering physically and needs you to pour healing power into his body. Give him strength to continue to exercise his special gift of evangelism behind the walls.
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