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What Do You Get Out of Being a Christian?

I’ve written before about this young man, JD; I worked with through CASA. We met three years ago this month. He was brought to Murfreesboro from a lockdown facility to meet with his family. He was in leg irons. The DCS worker apologized for the leg irons, but JD had run on him several times.

In January 2017, JD and three friends were trying to buy drugs from two dealers. His story is that all six people involved were carrying guns. The two drug dealers pulled their guns first and fired on him and his friends. The result was one drug dealer killed by a shot to the head and the other one wounded in the leg. JD found himself in adult jail at age 17 charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and three other related felonies. When I asked his former attorney if the State would seek the death penalty, he gave me a frustrated look. His answer “not for killing a drug dealer.” JD has celebrated two birthdays in jail, fought off at least two attempted rapes, contemplated and tried suicide, and spent many days in solitary for bad behavior. About a month ago, the family of the man killed sent word to JD that as soon as he went to prison, they would have him killed.

During our visit last week, he had great news. The ballistics report had finally come back, and the bullets that killed the drug dealer did not come from JD’s gun. The dealer’s “homeboy” killed him. JD believes he’s going home soon. I did not have the heart to ask about the other charges which will probably stick. One of his charge partners relayed all this information to him. Why didn’t this news come from JD’s attorney? He asked me to put money in his phone account so that he could call his parents and his attorney. He claims his parents have not come for a visit since he’s been in jail. He only talks with them by phone when he has money in his phone account. They seem to have never put any money into his account.

From conversations with former inmates who now have a prison ministry, I’m suspicious that JD has found another way to ask for money for his phone account. The inmates pick up many additional bad habits in jail. They develop an attitude about “what’s in it for me.” His attorney has not answered my email, asking him to verify JD’s claims about the ballistics report. It may be a violation of attorney/client privileges.

When I left JD last week, he wanted assurance that I would visit him again. Two days later, one of his fellow inmates called me to let me know JD was in solitary. JD owed this guy money and requested that I put money in his commissary account to repay him. A scam? My prayers, visits, and encouragement in letters seem to have no effect. I talked to JD bout one of the ladies at church corresponding with him. She has a history of successfully working with inmates. He promised to respond. He never did! I’ve contemplated several times to stop writing and visiting JD. Are my contemplations the devil’s work? I just cannot seem to walk away from him!

How do I get JD to understand what being a Christian would do for him? At times, I believe we give people the wrong idea. “If you become a Christian, everything will be fine!” If he does build a relationship with God and Christ, he will still be in jail, celebrate more birthdays there, he’ll have to fight off rapists, and maybe he’ll contemplate and try suicide again, or maybe drug dealer’s family will still try to have him killed. Remember his attitude of “what’s in it for me” if I become a Christian? My simple answer is forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood, which means eternal life with God and Jesus. This requires faith! Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen according to Hebrews 11:1. Salvation is intangible, so there is nothing you can see or hold JD! There are many other advantages, but you must have faith! Bible study can help increase your faith.

JD has told me that he believes there is a God, but I have doubts that he has ever studied the Bible before jail. He says he attends a Bible study every week. The letters that I’ve sent have included Bible verses as an encouragement. The jail does not allow inmates to have the original letter. The inmates view it on a kiosk screen. There is a limit on how many pages the jailers will copy, but no one seems to know the magic number. It appears to be up to the jailer's discretion at the time. I’ve decided on my next visit to ask what he’s learned from his Bible study.

How would you answer the question? What Do You Get Out of Being a Christian? I decided to put this question into a search engine on the internet. The answers were very wide and some far fetched to me. Some listed the disadvantages as well. One article claimed that a gentleman in the late 1800s received the Holy Spirit and produced over 100,000 healings as a result.

I had planned to list several advantages for your consideration but changed my plans. I would like your input. I want to send a series of short “letters” to JD with the advantages you feel you received from being a Christian. Hopefully, knowing people responded just for him will encourage him. If I can use your name, that will add to the effect. If you prefer to be anonymous, that’s OK but at least let me use your initials. Please send me an email with your greatest advantage or advantages. I will print it and mail it right away. Your email address will not appear in the “letter” sent to him. Your email address will never be used again and will be deleted after I use it. If you prefer, send a note to my attention to Southside Church of Christ, 108 NARROWS ROAD, SHELBYVILLE TN 37160

A few weeks ago, I published an article on Boldness. I see this as an opportunity to be bold and affect a young man’s life. Please, please respond! What does JD need most? People who will influence him to have a close, loving, and obedient relationship with God!

Please pray for JD!!

Thanks!

Mike Clement

In The Grip Of Grace
Obstacles and Challenges to My Faith

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