How is it that a single congregation can be working in no less than 15 state prisons? I don’t know all the details, but a single Brazilian congregation is reaching the incarcerated, in large part, through Bible correspondence courses (some of which we have provided). Let no one say that such courses have little use today, with the Internet.
In English, the resources abound — so much so that the options can be rather bewildering. In other languages, not so much. We can be glad for those servants who work to put sound printed material in the hands of God’s family, in order that they might be more effective in saving lost souls.
Prisons and jails are hard places. Not a few brethren are working to reach those behind bars. So much more can be done, however, to penetrate where evil is strong. In Brazilian prisons, gangs often control, from behind the high walls and barbed wire, what happens on the outside. So it’s not far from the truth to say that such places are the very heart of evil.
¶ Of course, no geographical location, nor type of location, can truly be identified as the locus of evil. Evil penetrates fine mansions and rickety hovels. Real evil starts in the human heart. One of the things that God hates is “a heart that devises wicked plans” Pro 6.18 NET.
Our Lord said, “For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” Mat 15.19. And James the brother reminds us not to blame God, because temptation starts from within, from the lure and enticement of one’s own desires, Jas 1.14.
¶ In our Bible reading group, we’ll read tonight the third text in the series, “How to Be Rich Toward God.” The first reading took the verse from which comes the title, about the rich fool in Lk 12. The second went to 1Tm 6, on being rich in good works. Tonight, we go to Jas 2 for those who are rich in faith. Not a bad series so far, eh? Do you have any passages that would fit well in this series? We have some slots left.
¶ In the Taubaté congregation, I started a series about perfect things, one of those being the church and the saints. Of course, you know that the biblical sense of perfect isn’t like the modern sense, of being without sin. So in the modern sense, Jesus was perfect, but in the biblical sense, he was not, at least, for a time. So wrote the author of Hebrews.
¶ Oh, about that Brazilian congregation I mentioned above, working in the prisons? BNC shared some news about them back in 2013, when they had gone into four prisons. Two years made a lot of difference, didn’t it? From four to 15. So how is your evangelistic outreach doing? I don’t know about you, but these folks make me feel embarrassed at my efforts.
¶ The Missus and I went to a funeral Sunday morning. (The churches we work with meet in the afternoon and evening.) An elderly man, about 85, had passed away, and his Christian wife and grown children felt so badly, because he had had many opportunities to obey the gospel, but he never did. One son even bought a kiddie pool to baptize his ailing father in, just in case he could be persuaded to make the eternal decision at the last hour.
Hearts break when other hearts are hardened and enter into eternity without redemption. How many times have you seen this?
¶ We’ve recently enjoyed the company of some American Christians who sought out the church while here on business. It’s so encouraging to see people who, when away from home, keep their commitment to the body of Christ. We have had more opportunity to get to know them, since they are a bit isolated while here, so we do some things together. One night, we sang English hymns, since the wife of the couple doesn’t speak Portuguese. She appreciated that.
And we enjoyed it, too. Even though there’s a goodly number of Americans here in the city, we don’t seek them out, since we don’t have much in common. We’re looking, instead, to build up a community of like-minded saints who share an eternal goal and who call each other brother and sister. And mean it.