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Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Five

The Spirit of Fear Part 1

The power that binds most prisoners is the spirit of fear. It is the power behind most of the struggles the Body of Christ has in prison as well. We can trust that "... God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

This spirit comes from the world, the flesh and the devil and can quench the Holy Spirit. It is a work of the flesh in the Body of Christ through self ambition and exaltation. This spirit rules the life of the unbeliever, but the same spirit influences many believers. The most common name for it is pride.

The believer who walks in the flesh has not put to death the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:5-9). The remaining residue of their old fallen nature must be put off, as the new man is put on through experiencing the love of God (Colossians 3:10-14).

The child of God bound by this spirit must be corrected in love. They should be confronted, but with a lot of wisdom. They earn acceptance through their "good works," so this can be a time of crushing for them. They may become extremely angry when their works are not accepted as being from God.

The root of most anger is fear. When a person's behavior is confronted, it is always the fault of everyone else. He is blind to the trail of damaged relationships in his life. He has angrily plowed through life for so long, that he can believe it to be normal, even righteous behavior. He knows it all and is always right and everyone else is wrong. We can't fix this person. Only the Lord can deal with their heart and open their eyes to this bondage. They will need to be honest about their anger and its roots, so they can repent and be freed.

This spirit of fear is not hard to recognize, because it acts contrary to love. It is impatient and lacks brotherly kindness. It is insecure. It is boastful or parades itself and is puffed up with pride. The fruit of the Spirit is missing, but it does quite well on its own. It does everything to feel loved and it seeks perfection. It becomes depressed when it does not succeed. It is the power behind a person who falls into sexual sin for fulfillment, not seeing that only God's love can fulfill their need. It is very difficult for a person influenced by this spirit to yield to the power of love.

If a person isn't experiencing God's love, they can be easily deceived by this spirit of fear. It lures others through deception, since there seems to be so much potential in these works of the flesh. It can form joints where members of the Body of Christ are deceived into functioning together in a ministry spirit. They form a strong bond to hold the joint in place, even under intense pressure, but it is a bond of iniquity. This can take over a legitimate group in the congregation and gain control over a certain part of a ministry. In time, it can end up controlling everyone in the congregation. The congregation can loose many members as a result.

Those who are spiritual eventually see that this group has become secretive. The one in control can lay down his rules under the authority of the pastor or chaplain. A strong identity is formed, sometimes even given a name, but not everyone in the group is always deceived. As problems begin to come out from the spiritual discontents; the pastor or chaplain must step in to make firm correction with love and wisdom. If this is not done, the congregation can suffer even more.

The person who is overcome by this spirit is always afraid of losing control, since he is not experiencing the love of God. The more he seems to be losing control, the more he steps up to take control. He could be afraid of losing his job or his position in ministry, which he has gained through manipulation. He expresses his fear and anger by focusing on those whom he feels are responsible for his problems. He sees himself as perfect, so he blames his ministry team, rather than accepting responsibly for his actions. Those he should be empowering to love end up being subjected to his fear and anger. Whereas, the person experiencing God's love, always trusts the Lord to be in control of all things.

This spirit of fear is the power behind the world system. Many who get saved, bring the world into the Body of Christ. In the early church, Simon, a sorcerer, got saved in Samaria. He saw the great power of the Holy Spirit and tried to buy the gifts rather than just receive them freely. The Apostle Peter dealt with this problem very quickly after easily discerning it. Peter said to Simon: "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." Simon appears to have repented, saying, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me" (Acts 8:14-25).

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Eight

The Revelation of Righteousness

Our Lord Jesus Christ said, " first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). I am amazed at how my desires have been truly satisfied because I have sought the kingdom of God's love and His righteousness. The many desires that used to cloud my mind are no longer important, because I am satisfied basking in God's love.

As a result, "...I am not ashamed of the gospel [good news] of Christ [the anointing], for it[the gospel] is the power of God [love] to salvation [deliverance, healing, soundness, freedom and wholeness] for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God [love] is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just [righteous] shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:16,17, emphasis added).

This is a way to meditate on God's love: by examining the emphasis found in key Scriptures. For example, the Good News of Jesus Christ is the power of God's love. His love brought salvation to us through the finished work of the cross. The free gift of Christ's righteousness placed us in right standing with God. This righteousness is revealed to us through faith. Righteous living, by faith, is the heart of the gospel message.

It is God's love that brings forth the revelation of Christ's righteousness. The Apostle Paul said, "For the love of Christ compels us... that God [love] was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself ... we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God [love] were pleading through us ... For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus] " (2 Corinthians 5:14,20,21).

We are compelled by God's love as ambassadors of Christ, telling the world about the great exchange that Jesus made at His death, burial and resurrection. Christ came to take upon Himself the judgment for our sin, due to the sin nature of Adam. He gave us the gift of His righteousness that was due Him, as the second Adam. This message of God's love and grace compels us to reach the lost.

As an ambassador of Christ, the Apostle Paul made this message very clear to the Romans, saying, "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace [God's ability] and of the gift of righteousness will reign [rule] in life through the one, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).

But not everyone is compelled by love to reign in righteousness. There will be times in ministry when legalistic issues will arise such as Paul wrote about concerning what foods to eat or what day to esteem, saying, "...for the Kingdom of God [love] is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Those who walk in revealed righteousness will have peace and joy.

The hearts of those in the Body of Christ who insist on walking in the legalistic works of the flesh instead of God's grace will be spoken to prophetically. This was the case with Zerubbabel, who, in his flesh, was weak and lost hope in his ability to rebuild God's temple as he viewed the pile of rubble before his eyes. The Body of Christ [or the temple of God] may appear to be rubble before our eyes, but there is hope.

The Lord spoke to Zerubbabel through Zechariah in a vision. He saw a golden lambstand with a bowl on top it. The seven lamps had seven pipes connected to the bowl, which was being filled by two golden pipes from two olive trees. He saw the olive oil being piped directly from the trees to the lamps without the priest having to supply the power. The Lord said, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit ... Who are you, 0 great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone[completion in Christ] with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it'" (Zechariah 4:6,7).

The Lord went on to confirm to Zerubbabel that his hands would complete the temple, "For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, which scan to and from throughout the whole earth" (4:10). Be assured, though your work has begun small, the Lord will complete it as you rejoice in Him.

Finally, Zechariah asks the LORD what are the two olive branches that drip the oil into the bowl? The Lord answered, saying, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand before the Lord of the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:11-14).

The common interpretation is that the two trees or anointed ones represent Joshua, the High Priest at the time, and Zerubbabel, the representative of the Davidic King ship. Both of them were "messiahs", or "anointed ones". The expectation of two messiahs is common among some Jewish writings. Together they typify the two functions of Priest and King that are actually united in one Messiah, Jesus.

Jesus came as High Priest to offer the final sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 7:14-17; 10:11-18). He will come again as King to rule over the Earth in righteousness for 1000 years (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4).

The Apostle John saw a lampstand like the one Zachariah saw. "Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 4:5b). The revelation continues, " the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of. God sent out into all the earth" (5:6).

The two trees or anointed ones are Jesus Christ, Who was slain for our sins before the foundation of the world. The oil is the Holy Spirit, Who has regenerated our hearts and lives within us, and Who supplies God's authority and vision for ministry. The seven fold Spirit of God empowers us with the Spirit of (1) wisdom and (2) understanding, the Spirit of (3) counsel and (4) might, the Spirit of (5) knowledge and of the (6) fear of the Lord and of (7) righteousness in Christ (Isaiah 11:1-5).

The work of the ministry is not by our power or might, but by the power of the Spirit of grace. "But where sin abounded, grace [God's ability] abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20b,21). "For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness" (Romans 6:19b).

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Four

The Healing of the Heart

One purpose of God's Word is to heal our hearts. Our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and our ways are not His ways. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8,9). This is why Jesus came in the flesh to show us the thoughts and ways of our heavenly Father so that we could be healed by His ministry of love. His thoughts towards us are ". . . thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Our heart is the inner man. That part of us that can only be seen by the words and actions of the outer man. Jesus said, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man, for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." (Matthew 15:18-20a). Is there any doubt where the problem lies?

The heart of the Body of Christ must be healed before the world can see that our Father sent Jesus to save them from their destruction. Jesus prayed to our Father: "...that they may be one in US, that the world may believe that You sent Me... that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:21,23). Jesus is crying out for all believers to be healed, so the reflection of His face can be seen on His Body by the unbelievers.

Our purpose is to glorify our heavenly Father as the Body of Christ. This is impossible to do when our hearts are filled with prejudice against one another. It could be that we embrace doctrinal differences, instead of focusing only on the essentials of our faith. We will be tempted to agree with the judgments heard from the mouths and seen upon the faces of other members of a congregation trying to bring us into a bond of iniquity. Often conditions are placed on members of a congregation before loving them. The mind of Christ takes a stand for unconditional love. That is divine love [Greek: agape], the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).

The members of the Body of Christ are to be willing to develop a relationship with the other members, to function together under the headship of Christ as a "spiritual joint". 1The power is in the joint to unify and edify the Body of Christ in love. The ligaments or bands hold the joints in place, even under intense pressure. The Apostle Paul teaches:"From whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments" (Colossians 2:19a). When members of the Body of Christ experiences schisms where the joint begins to pop out of place in their relationships, the bond [ligament] of perfection [divine love] will hold the joint in place (Colossians 3:14). On the other hand, if the bond of perfection is missing, the bond of iniquity will allow disease to enter the Body of Christ as brothers argue and emphasize the problem, leading to separation.

The conclusion is that it is impossible to truly love someone if we do not know that God loves us. I hear members say often, "I know God loves me!" To the contrary, if we have prejudice in our hearts, we are left with only one conclusion, that we do not know God's love: "If someone says, 'I love God, ' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20).

The response is often, "I don't hate my brother!" I respond, "I know, but you are not loving your brother unconditionally either." By this time, the conversation is going in circles, because it is evident that his conditions for loving is hindering the flow of God's unconditional love. Clearly, his fear, prejudice and insecurity must be healed by experiencing God's love, before he can be used to demonstrate to the world that our heavenly Father sent Jesus for their sins.

The problem is the heart of the Body of Christ needs mending so that our light can "...shine before men, that they [the unbeliever] may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). We are born of God, but we are not overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil. The Apostle John exclaims: "For whatever is born of God[love] overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1 John 5:4).

The solution is to settle down and make ourselves subservient to the Head, being spiritually minded as "spiritual joints and ligaments", "...holding fast to the Head... grows with the increase that is from God [love]" (Colossians 2:19b). We are always growing in love and in "... the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). It could be that we need to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

As we grow in Christ, we begin to " those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1,2). We see ourselves sitting with Christ beside our heavenly Father. We take on a whole new identity in Christ, putting off the old man and putting on the new man of divine love. We let the peace of God rule our heart, the word of Christ dwelling in our heart and giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:5-17).

1 The Headship and the Body, Pastor Bob Hoekstra, Living in Christ Ministries

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Seven

The Power of Love

The Bible is God's love story to us. It confirms that fear and its associated issues are cast out by His perfect love. These issues cause much pain in our hearts, which we often treat by engaging in sexual sin or other addictive behavior.

The letters of Paul overflow with the solution to these issues. For instance, "... be imitators of God [love] as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for the saints" (Ephesians 5:1-3).

In other words, the answer to overcoming all immorality is to have an understanding of the sweetness of God's love for us as expressed at the cross. The Apostle Paul confirms, "For this is the will of God [love], your sanctification [to be made holy; set apart from sin for God's service]: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God [love]" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

The Lord called me to raise up Abounding Love Ministries in 1980, giving me this founding Scripture: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound [overflow] in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

We are all called to increase and overflow with God's love. Paul states, " that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more [in love], just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 3:13-4:2).

In closing his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, saying, "...may the God of peace Himself sanctify you [make you holy] completely; and may your whole spirit [past], soul [present] and body [future] be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The Lord has made us holy by giving us the Holy Spirit, a Spirit "... of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7b). This sound mind knows that God loves us, whichnot only frees us from sexual sins, but gives us a new desire and empowers us to minister His love to everyone we see.

The disciples waited in Jerusalem to receive power from on high. Jesus told them, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses[martyrs] to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The word love is not mentioned one time in the Acts of the Apostles. They received the power to love and demonstrate it by laying down their lives, speaking the Word, reaching the lost, healing the sick and turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

This same power is available today to those who know and believe in God's love as demonstrated at the cross. The disciples experienced God's love first hand at Calvary. After they received the power of the Holy Spirit, they were sent forth as Apostles with the message of Calvary's love. Three thousand were saved on Pentecost by Peter's sermon on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Another five thousand were saved after the healing of the man at gate Beautiful. These results are obtained by men, who truly knew and experienced God's love.

The ministry of God's love is contagious, but it will not happen unless the Body of Christ is mended first. Paul wrote from prison, saying: "And He [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping[mending] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11,12).

The word edify means to be built up. Paul makes it clear four verses later in his letter to the Ephesians, that we are to be built up in love. "...from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).

Now, let us put off the old man and put on the new man of love. "Put on the whole armor of God [love], that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). And once you put it on, never take it off, "... building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ until eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 20-23).


Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Six

The Spirit of Fear Part 2

The spirit of fear is to be dealt with firmly in the Body of Christ. No place is to be given to this lying spirit. The Apostle Paul cautions: "Therefore, putting away lying,'Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,' for we are members of one another. 'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:25-27).

This spirit can creep into the church, causing everyone to be afraid of the devil. For example, in the California prison system, Wicca is on the rise. The believer may fear losing control of the chapel to these practitioners. This prisoner is bound by the spirit of fear. When a prisoner is secure in Christ, he is able to minister the love of Christ to those caught up into witchcraft.

The devil has no power over the believer who knows his authority in Christ. "For in Him[Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power-Having disarmed principalities and powers, He[Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:9,10,15). Is there any doubt that our LORD has everything under His control?

The problem arises when a believer looks at other Christians as the enemy, who do not agree with them in all areas. This mind set comes from a person who is not secure in his own beliefs. He runs down and ridicules all other believers. Paul says, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification [building up], that it may impart grace [God's ability] to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

This same spirit of fear can cause one to seek control over the beliefs of others. He gets angry when others do not accept his beliefs. He separates himself from other believers, causing disunity and strife. He believes everyone except him teaches false doctrines. He never attends a class or service, unless he has a leading role in it. Paul says, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

A chaplain or pastor is given the responsibility to discern when the spirit of fear has been given control in a congregation. He must have his eyes and ears open, plus he is to have his senses exercised to discern both good and evil, and, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

If the spirit of fear is allowed to have place in the ministry, the glory of God will never fully come forth from the heart of the Body of Christ. If authority is continued to be given to it, the Holy Spirit will not be welcome to do a work only He can do. Like John the Baptist realized, Jesus must increase, and our agenda decrease (John 3:30).

When the Children of Israel could not find any water to drink, God told Moses to speak to a rock for it to give forth water. In anger, Moses gathered the congregation and said, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock? Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank" (Numbers 20:111). The days of the believer smiting the rock in fear must cease. The believer may get the Spirit to flow in the flesh, but only because of God's grace.

The spirit of fear may make it appear that a work done in the flesh is from God. In reality, if done in disobedience, it will not please God. Moses was suppose to speak to the rock in faith, not strike it in the flesh. As a result, he was not allowed to go into the promise land. He had to appoint Joshua to take the Israelites into the promise land.

The hearts of men in prison will not be revived by the spirit of fear. We are called to be as Jesus is, to be the Body of Christ in this world, "... because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:17,18).

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Three

The Spirit Reveals God's Love

The Bible is God's revealed truth. God assures us that every human has a spirit (Job 32:8; Zechariah 12:1). This spirit, joined to our brain, is what forms our mind, giving us the power of intellect and personality. The Apostle Paul asks: "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?" The point is: "Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11). Only the Holy Spirit can reveal God's love to us.

The wisdom of man can do amazing things, because of the human spirit within him. That is why we have such technological discoveries, but he can't solve relationship problems because they are spiritual in nature. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal spiritual things, such as God's love for right relationships. A man can't comprehend this kind of love without the Spirit revealing it to his mind. This is why the Scripture says, "... But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Spiritual minded man knows the Iove of God.

My heart's desire is for everyone to experience God's love. Let us pray: "... to be strengthened with might through the Holy Spirit ... being rooted and grounded in love... to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God [love]" (Ephesians 3:16-18).

The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah, saying: "Eye has not seen, nor ear beard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." Paul continues: "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit... that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God" (1 Corinthians 2:9,10,12b). One thing that is freely give to us is God's love.

The Apostle John said it like this: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One [Jesus], and you know all things... the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true... " (1 John 2:20,27). The anointing of the Holy One teaches us the truth that God loved us before the foundation of the world.

We are powerless without experiencing God's love. The Apostle Paul stated: "For the kingdom of God [love] is not in word but in power" (1 Corinthians 4:20). We are empowered to share God's love with others, "...because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5 KJV).

This is the same power of love that Peter spoke about to Cornelius, saying: "how God[love] anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God [love] was with Him" (Acts 10:38). This is the same anointing Isaiah spoke of that destroys the yoke of bondage (10:27). And the same love that John says casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). We possess burden removing, yoke destroying love!

We are honored to live with those who Jesus came to love. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, proclaiming: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD" (Luke 4:18,19).

The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses, causing us to be contagious with the love God has revealed to us. Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Those who do not know Christ must have their spirit regenerated by the Holy Spirit in order to know and believe the love of God. "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit ... whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:13,15,16).

The harvest field is ready and waiting. The more we experience God's love, the more effective we will be in reaching the lost. The more our hearts are mended by the anointing of God's love, the more His love can flow to those around us. The Lord has given gifts to the church, "...for the perfecting [mending] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ... according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:12,16 KJV).

The Body of Christ is a living organism. It must be a healthy body with every part doing its job effectively. Dr. James Richards says: "We are to be motivated by love, governed by the irrefutable principles of the Word of God and empowered by the Spirit of Grace for the pursuit of a specific purpose." 1 The Spirit of grace is God's ability working in us to do what we can not do in our flesh. This is only possible because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross.

Let the Apostle John be our example. We acquaint him as the Apostle of love, who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved five times in his Gospel, starting at John 13:23. He knew that he was loved by God, and as a result, he was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ, Who reveals the love of our heavenly Father (Revelation 1:1-3; 19:10). 2  Do you realize that you are the disciple who Jesus loves as well?

Supernatural Ministry, James B. Richards, Impact International Publications, Huntsville, Alabama, 2 See the chart, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson Two

No Respector of Persons

Prisoners whose hearts are changed by the love of God begin to see the world around them from a totally different perspective. Their hearts have changed so they see things as God sees things from a loving point of view, without the prejudices that once held them in bondage. This is a humbling experience.

The Apostle Peter came to the conclusion that God is no respecter of persons after he received a vision to take the Good News of Christ to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile (Acts 10:24-34). This took great courage on Peter's part, since it was unlawful for a Jewish man to keep company with a man of another nation. It was an act of love totally out of the ordinary, all because God had shown him in a vision to not call any man unclean. This is still true today inside or outside of prison.

Jesus made it clear to a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus that, "... God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life" (John 3:16). God loves all mankind, no matter what, but in order for them to not perish by taking their own judgment for sin, they must believe and receive God's sacrifice of His Son in their place. This is divine love, which is completely self-sacrificial.

The Bible is God's love story to all mankind from Genesis to Revelation. If we did not have this vision of the redemptive revelation of God's love through Jesus Christ, we would indeed perish (Proverbs 29:18). The Apostle Paul stated: "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

It is most important for prisoners to see themselves loved by God. The prison administration will not show them this love, because that is not their purpose. The prison chaplain is hired to bring forth a religious program and is often limited in how much affection and care he can show a prisoner. It is up to the inmate Body of Christ to demonstrate God's love and express His love to each another and to those who do not know Christ.

Because of fear and a lack of boldness, prisoners can become powerless to express God's love. It takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to give this boldness to witness God's love in power. We have to be willing to take the limits off God. Like the Apostle Paul proclaimed, we are to say: "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39).

The more we concentrate on God's love for us, the more boldly we share our faith. Paul wrote to Philemon, saying: "... that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus" (v.6). The more we share our faith, the more effective we become in ministry. A new boldness comes forth in ministry as we concentrate solely upon every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus.

One of my favorite Scriptures in the New Testament is Jude 20,21: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

The best way I have found to build up myself in the most holy faith is to meditate on the Scriptures, even memorize them. This is my way of keeping myself in the love of God. Listen to this one: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4,5). Can you see how meditating these verses would keep your expression of God's love alive?

An equally important way to experience the love of God is to pray. Let us pray together the prayer that Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus. I believe that our heavenly Father desires to answer it for us as well. "I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will he more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God" (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT).

I pray this lesson has been a benefit to help you experience the love of God. In our next lesson, I will be sharing on how it takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to teach you the knowledge of God's love, so you will believe in it and act upon it.

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson One

Experiencing God's Love

My friend, Dr. James Richards, in his bookSupernatural Ministries, states: "The more you experience God's love, the more your heart will be changed, and the more you will do what you should do." 1 If we haven't experienced God's love, resulting in a changed heart, our efforts in ministry will be only a religious program, not a powerful move of God.

As Christians, we place great emphasis on loving God and others, but this is impossible without first understanding that God loves us. The Apostle John wrote: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us ... By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us... In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us... " (1 John 3:1,16; 4:10).

The key for winning the lost is to "...know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). The wordabide means to settle down and make yourself at home in God's love. Then, the power of love is free to flow.

Only a few prisoners have experienced true, loving relationships in their lives. They have not been able to make themselves at home with a loving father. They have come from homes with violence, abuse of all kinds and turmoil in the family. They have gone elsewhere to find a substitute for the love they can't live without, never realizing that only Jesus can truly satisfy their need.

Jesus is our example of a loving father throughout the Gospels. He taught concerning the love of His Father, saying: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser ... you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing ... As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you, abide in My love ... If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:1,5,9,10).

As a result of abiding in God's love, we are promised answers to prayer, fullness of joy and the ability to love God and others. Most prisoners have become very fearful, angry and controlling because they are connected to unhealthy relationships. They have never experienced contentment in Christ, but instead search for fulfillment from the world, never realizing that God's love is the missing element. Even after coming to Christ, only by experiencing God's love can the old man with his behavior traits be put to death or mortified. If not, our witness for Christ will suffer.

Not experiencing God's love hinders our mending, healing and change of heart, which allows us to become a productive member of the body of Christ. The Bible reveals two kinds of Christians: spiritual, those who know God's love; and carnal, those who don't! Those who know His love are healthy and radiant with God's glory shining upon their face. Their witness is contagious as they reach out with care and respect for others. Those who don't know God's love have a veil over their face. They are judgmental, argumentative and insecure. One is a productive member of the Body of Christ; the other hinders the work of the ministry, never entering the divine flow of love.

Jesus prayed for all believers before His death, asking: "... that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me... that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world... that the love which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:23-26). Is there any doubt that our Father loves us just as He did Jesus before the foundation of the world?

I have met hundreds of struggling Christian brothers in prison. For example: One has never been able to live a committed Christian life, living in fear of failure. Another contends for his chosen doctrine with great ferocity, even to the point of expressing his views with anger. And another shuns all Christians who don't believe like him, living in fear of compromise. All these brothers share one thing in common. They are involved in religion, legalistic Christianity, instead of a powerful relationship with their loving heavenly Father. They admit to never truly knowing the love of God, and are willing to pray to understand God's love for them. Only this awakening can deliver them from their fears.

In other words, the love of God motivates us to love. As the Apostle John says: "we love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Likewise, we love others because He first loved us. The Apostle Paul says: "For the love of Christ compels us... " (2 Corinthians 5:14a). As a result, a wave of revival moves through the Body of Christ to the unbelieving world.

1 website:, recommended for purchasing the book Supernatural Ministry for prisoners.

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson B

Building Meeting Plan Training

The Lord is raising up His church in each building housing unit in prisons around the world. This occurs as the Holy Spirit flows from the lives of the members of the Body of Christ, who decide "... to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

These are the mature members of the Body of Christ, who have experienced a prophetic voice, a teaching priesthood and a reigning kingship. These members have come together as examples to the younger members, realizing, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Focus on God's Love

In a world that is filled with self-serving individuals, the genuine love of Christians should attract others to the faith. Don't pass up the opportunity to share God's love with everyone you come into contact with throughout the day. This vision [the redemptive revelation of God] is simply His love for the world (John 3:16). It is important to study the lessons that go along with this vision as a reminder of God's love for you. His love is contagious, and if caught, it will spreads throughout the prison, causing the life and light of God to shine on every face. "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The Church's Commission

The Greek word for "church" is ekklesia, which means "the called out ones." Jesus called us out, saying, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). He is calling Christian prisoners out of their cells, from underneath their bushels, to shine the light of Christ boldly in the building dayrooms and prison yards. Jesus commissioned believers to make disciples, baptize and teach them the Gospel [Good News], which He had taught (Matthew 28:16-20).

The Church is on the move with Good News. This began on Pentecost with about a hundred and twenty people, but quickly grew to thousands (Acts chs. 1-4). The Apostles went forth setting up local assemblies throughout the Mediterranean region. Similarly, as men come to Christ in prison, local assemblies are being set up in the housing units. The Church goes to the people, instead of expecting people to go to the church.

The chapel's capacity is small compared to the number of men in the housing units. The chapel services and meetings are a time of edification for the members leading the assemblies in the housing units. These are led by gifted men the Lord has given, "... for the equipping [mending] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ... from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:12,16).

The following is a guide to allow the members of the Body of Christ to work together, so that every joint supplies the power for an effective ministry of love. We must see the Church as a living, loving and growing organism, functioning together so that our combined effect is greater than an individual part. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father" (John 14:12). Print Building Meetings Plan Form.

1. Opening Prayer
The facilitator is to choose someone to open in a short prayer.

The Lord has raised up a kingdom of priest in Christ (Exodus 19:5,6). We are "... a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

2 List of Christians in Building
Make a list of all who identify themselves as Christian in the building, noting those who attend this weekly meeting. Appoint a member to keep this list up to date.

Call for the members to come together for the purpose of raising up the Body of Christ in the buildings. This is a weekly 30 minute accountability meeting. Choose a day, taking into consideration the schedules of the members. It may be necessary to have 3 different meetings that day to assure that all members can attend at least one of them. It may be necessary to have more than one facilitator to oversee the meetings. Before the actual meeting, look around the dayroom for the Christians to remind them of the upcoming meeting, remembering there are no non-essential parts in the Body.

3. Mending The Body Chart Review 
Review the vision: "Mending the Body of Christ" Study Chart.

Keep the ministry vision [the redemptive revelation of God's love] fresh in the minds of the local assembly. It is a four part vision to change the hearts of prisoners by having them experience God's love. The vision covers the evangelism Field, a spiritual autopsy in the Mortuary, discipleship in the Sanctuary and ministering as sons of God in the Body of Christ. These are the most often neglected areas of ministry. Print Study Chart.

4. Prayer Request Report
List prayer requests at a separate meeting. Ask a member to seek prayer requests and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member is to be known as a person of prayer, who will seek out prayer requests and who is available to pray diligently. He or she may want to make a list of the prayers, or use prayer slips. Additionally, they can use "answer to prayer" slips for the person requesting the prayer to be able to report the answer expected by faith. It may be possible to go door to door in the housing unit asking for prayer requests, while expressing God's love, care and concern. Prayer request slips can be sent to a pen pal for copying or printed from the internet. As the spirit leads, the prayer representative from all buildings meet together for prayer. We are called to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Print Prayer Request Slips.

5. Tithing Report
Talk about the needs for the poor among us. Ask a member to receive the tithe from members and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member is to have the gift of giving. This person is able to discern the needy, showing love, grace and mercy, being careful not to become insensitive (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). The believers who tithe know they can trust the tithe representative to give with discretion and wisdom. The tithing needs are shared weekly with all the believers. These items include toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shower shoes, toothbrush, body lotion, shampoo, nail clippers, writing pens, comb and brush. The tithe representatives take a teamwork approach in meeting the needs of all buildings by sharing items as received in one building to fill the needs in other buildings.

6. Table Discipleship Report
Be free to use a variety of studies, depending on what the table leader is passionate about. Ask a member to oversee the table leaders and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member should be a disciple [disciplined one] of Christ, abiding in God's word (John 8:31,32). This person is able to oversee the other leaders of various table studies, having put off the old man and put on the new man as an "...imitator of God [love] as dear children" (Ephesians 4:20-24; 5:1,2). He or she is able to recognize and instruct table study leaders in foundational doctrines, Christian identity, the resurrected life and the power of love and grace. The focus is on the essential doctrines of the faith, freedom in the non-essentials and in all things love. It is typical to see a variety of studies both in English and Spanish taking place on several tables both day and evening throughout the week. The table discipleship members from each building meet monthly to discuss the ministry. Print Table Discipleship & Small (slab) Groups Attendance & Report Sheet.

7. Small (Slab) Group Report
Be free to use various books, depending on what recovery material the leader is passionate about, such as Celebrate Recovery. Ask a member to oversee the table leaders and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member has similar qualifications as the table discipleship member, but has experience with recovery groups as well. This person understands the spiritual autopsy [examination] that must be done on the old man, water baptism, mortifying the flesh, recovery group Godly counsel and the need to bury the body of sin once and for all. When a prisoner admits and understands the destructive body of sin that placed Christ on the cross, he or she will less likely allow sin to reign and return to their life. Table recovery groups can easily be set up using books such as Breaking the CycleHow to Stop the Pain and Escape from Codependent Christianity by Dr. James B. Richards, There are a variety of recovery books and materials widely available from various ministries for free, such as Christian 12-Step Ministry, POB 4321 Ocala, FL 34476-4321. They offer a workbook which works well for running a small slab group at a table. The small slab group members from all buildings meet monthly to discuss the ministry. They use the same report sheet as the table discipleship members.

8. One-On-One-Witnessing/Counseling Report
Sharing your faith, witness training and evangelism. Ask at least two members to train others to share their faith by witnessing in groups of two or more, to do Godly counseling from God's Word and to report on the success.

These members should believe in God's love for the world by having had experience. They know the importance of one-on-one ministry where 70-90% who confess Christ do so because of a friend or relative. These believers make available witnessing tools such asEvangelism Explosion by Dr. James Kennedy, or the Roman Road chain. They equip others to share their faith, always realizing that genuine love attracts others. They need to know how to effectively use tracts and to teach others to do the same. They are also able to give Godly counsel from His Word. These members from all buildings make up Evangelism teams with the purpose of reaching the prison for Christ.

[It is suggested that you obtain the book Counseling God's Way by Pastor Bob Hoekstra, Living In Christ Ministries, P.O. Box 2848, Costa Mesa, CA 92628, (877)600-LICM,]

9. Spanish Ministry Report
Various Bible studies, materials and table ministries. Ask a Spanish speaking member to oversee this ministry and to report the work of the ministry.

This member is usually the strongest Spanish speaking Christian in the building. He or she is well respected for their " of faith, labor of love and patient of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:3). This person is diligent to work with all the Spanish speaking members, teaching at the tables, witnessing, counseling, suggesting materials and studies, plus being available in all areas of building outreach. These members from all the buildings work together to reach all the Spanish speaking prisoners for Christ. The Spanish table discipleship and slab groups will be reported on the same sheet as the groups in English.

10. Correspondence Studies Report
Sign up men for Crossroad studies and others. Ask a member to provide applications for correspondent Bible studies and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member knows the value of correspondent Bible studies and may be presently enrolled himself. This person is available to encourage others to enroll in the studies through the mail by providing the stamp when needed to mail the application. This member lets the applicants know that they can receive help to aid them with the studies, and they will be encouraged by the one grading the study. Plus, mentors are assigned on the higher level studies as pen pals. [For an application: Crossroads Bible Institute, P.O. Box 900, Grand Rapids, MI 495090900 is a division of RBC Ministries distributor of The Daily Bread.]

11. Bibles & Materials Report
Pick up materials from Chapel clerk for distribution. Ask a member to help provide Bibles and materials and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member is diligent to lay out Bibles, books and materials on the dayroom tables so others can pick them up to read. This person encourages other believers to pick up the materials and share them with others. Those materials that are not picked up should be put away for another day. The materials that are not used after two months should be returned to the Chapel clerk.

12. Chapel Schedule Report
Make sure everyone knows the Christian chapel schedule. Ask a member to pass out schedules and to report on the work of the ministry.

This member distributes a schedule of the daily Christian services, studies and groups in the prison chapel, on the yard and in the buildings. This schedule can be posted on building bulletin boards, in the chapel and handed out to individuals.

13. Joints & Ligaments 
Explain how the power is in the joint.

Jesus Christ is the Head of His church. He is the builder, we are His disciples, being Spirit led and empowered. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). Jesus is to be to this spiritual body, the Church, what our physical heads are to our physical bodies. He initiates and sustains the body by means of the truth of His word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Man must never be striving and manipulating to gain control over the Church of Jesus Christ. "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). He is our standard for life. We grow to express His likeness, will and character, not ours.

Every member of the Body is to seek the Lord Jesus for guidance, not expecting men to supply the power. We are spiritual joints as members of Christ's body. The power is in the joint. "...from whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies" (Ephesians 4:16a). The elbow in the human body, connect the upper and lower arm and is a good example of what spiritual joints are to Christ's body, the church. A spiritual joint forms when any member of Christ's body is willing to develop a relationship with any other member, to function together under the headship of Christ. Such joints can then be used of the Lord to unify and edify the body of Christ.

Joints need ligaments to function effectively. "From whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments" (Colossians 2:19a). Ligaments are strong bonds that hold the joints in place, even under intense pressure. When members of the Body of Christ begin to relate together to serve the Lord, great pressure often results. Spiritual joints will pop out of joint if spiritual ligaments are not growing around the joint. This is the bond of Christlike love. "And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14). As we hold fast the the Head, the Lord brings spiritual growth, for His body: "... grows with the increase that is from God" (Colossians 2:19b).

[Excerpts from The Head and the Body by Pastor Bob Hoekstra, Living in Christ Ministries newsletter, Spring 2005, ]

14. Body of Christ Building Spread
Agape feast quarterly by the Christians who invite their unbelieving friends. Ask a member to be in charge of securing the food and preparing the spread.

This member has experience in preparing large spreads. He or she knows how to make, for instance, quality burritos from items at the prison canteen, what to purchase and how much for a certain number of people. The word is put out for donations of what food is needed from the believers for a specific date. The believers share God's love during the feast, which can end up being a beautiful testimony. The overall purpose of this vision being to reach out in loving service in a moment of need to everyone in the housing unit .

[Friends and family members of inmates are to send copies of the above vision from, accompanying lessons, various forms and adequate copies of the materials to carry out the work of the ministry in their housing units.]

Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson A

Our vision is to see the Body of Christ behind prison walls made whole, so we can become more effective in reaching the lost. This process of wholeness takes place through displaying the compassion of Christ and modeling the love of God.

Mending the Body of Christ is ". . . for the equipping [perfecting] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). This concept of equipping or perfecting is also found in Matthew 4:21, where James and John are mending their nets. The word mending is the same root word translated perfecting. If their fishing nets were not mended, they were of no value for catching fish. Likewise, if the members of the Body of Christ are not mended, they will be useless as fishers of men.

Where is the Body?

The Mending of the Body of Christ study chart covers the evangelism Field, a spiritual autopsy in the Mortuary, discipleship in the Sanctuary and ministering as sons of God in the Body of Christ.

In most prisons, the Protestants are provided limited time and space in the prison chapel to carry out their services. Several religions and Christian denominations, many of which do not follow biblical doctrines, compete for the available chapel hours. Sometimes prisoners are required to conduct their activities only in the chapel, and are often intimidated by prison officials and other inmates.

Where is the Body of Christ behind prison walls? In many cases, we find them hiding in the chapel, in their cells and work places; not standing up for Christ before others. If they are seen, it is walking from their housing units to the chapel, lacking boldness to share their faith in Christ.

It's Time to "Go!"

Jesus came and told His disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, GO and MAKE disciples of ALL the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT).

It is time for prisoners in the Body of Christ to come out of their cells, to evangelize the unsaved in their housing units and yard. This will happen only as individual saints catch the vision for Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls, for ". . . there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philipians 3:18b).

We must start by praying that a desire for evangelism will come to the church leadership in prisons. That their love for each other would be genuine. That they would take delight in honoring each other. That they would not be lazy in the work of the ministry, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. That they be glad for all God's plan for them, and to be patient in trouble, always prayerful (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

The Body's Priorities

The Mending the Body Ministry Priorities study chart explains how the building housing units are our top priority for ministry. Where we live is our Jerusalem [city of peace], where we are empowered to testify of Christ's finished work at the cross. Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth"(Acts 1:8).

We are called to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace to equip [mend] the saints for the work of the ministry, and for edifying [building up] the body of Christ in love (Ephesians 4:3,12,16). When the saints are mended, the work of the ministry flows out from the housing unit to Judea [the chapel] and to Samaria [the prison yard]. These are God's treasures coming forth as golden lights from prison cells as a Spiritual army taking the Gospel over the walls to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Mending the Body of Christ Building Meeting Plan calls for Christians to meet together weekly in their housing units as a Body, reporting on their assigned tasks, all joined together for a powerful move of God. But first, there is a need to go through the Building Meeting Plan Training, that we "...may adorn [make attractive] the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (Titus 2:10b).

A Responsible Body

It is the responsibility of the prison chaplain and the mature Christian prisoners to come together for the Mending of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote: "And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry... " (Ephesians 4:11,12a).

Paul went on to say: ". . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ"(Ephesians 4:13). That perfect man is Christ Himself, who the Body of Christ is to emulate.

We are exhorted to: " longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head --Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:14-16).

Every Joint Supplies

Mending the Body of Christ starts by admitting we are scattered and have a need to serve one another for the purpose of joining the body together in love. The whole body is to be joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share. This is what causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

In most cases, the prison chaplain is spread too thin among the inmate population. He is unaware of the many gifts in the body, because only a few members have access to him. Therefore, the ministry is limited to the supply of a few joints, causing the rest of the body to stagnate without growth. But as the members of the body agree to meet together in the housing units to develop unity, love for one another and to discover the many gifts in the body, a vision develops for reaching the lost around them.

The Apostle Peter exhorts: "God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to Him forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10,11).

Discover the Gifts

It is of utmost importance that the saints join together with Mending of the Body to discover the many gifts that are in atrophy or wasting away. The Apostle Paul says there are many members having different gifts of grace. These are motivational gifts, which flow from a deep motivation within us, that when satisfied through use, causes us the most fulfillment, excitement and joy. These gifts include prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, organization and showing mercy (Romans 12:4-8). The body is crippled until these gifts are activated, while lacking maturity and the ability to function in love and care for each individual part.

We are exhorted to " kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Romans 12:10-12).

The Body in Love

The Mending of the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls is now taking place. We have seen the growth of the body for the edifying [building up] of itself in love. The Building Meeting Plan is taking place in the housing units where the body has joined together for its different gifts to operate.

The facilitators are meeting together from each housing unit for a unified plan of evangelism, because they have seen the value of Mending of the Body. As part of the Building Meeting Plan, we have utilized food spreads [banquets], where the Body of Christ joins together to feed all interested inmates in the housing units using donations from the inmate canteen provided by the body. These have been very successful. The Mending the Body Spread Worksheet was created for organizing the housing unit and yard banquets. As a result, more gifts have come forth for every joint to supply.

We have seen men come to Christ who would never go to the chapel. Christians are getting involved in the work of the ministry as their gifts are allowed to flourish. The Body of Christ has grown because of the effective working by which every part does its share. As each member does his share in the housing units, they become prepared to go to the yard for a glorious display of the Body of Christ.