I was honored and blessed to be the Pastor of New Horizon Holiness Church in Wichita for nearly four years. While there we met the DiZazzo's and Bethany Revival Center. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
We left Wichita and began evangelizing again in January 2003. Odie graduated from high school in Oklahoma City in May of 2003. Pastor John DiZazzo and some of his folks surprised us and came to the graduation. We were thrilled that they took the time to make the trip to Oklahoma City.
While he was there, Bro. DiZazzo asked us if we would consider preaching a revival for them later in the year. That brought us to Bethany Revival Center in August 2003 and we have been coming back every year. This makes the 14th revival we have had here at Bethany.
Bro. Charles Mitchell from the church along with others from Bethany, including Pastor John DiZazzo volunteer as ministers and mentors at the Sedgwick County Detention Facility otherwise known as the jail.
Several years ago, Bro. Charles asked me to preach at the jail and jumped through the proper hoops to get me in. I have been hooked ever since. I have been there every year since that first visit preaching 2 or 3 days during the week I am here. I absolutely love it! Ten years I have been preaching at the Sedgwick County Jail.
I preached during chapel service this Tuesday and during in-depth men's Bible class on Wednesday. Both Pastor John and Bro. Charles were with me both days and we had a time in those services. Tuesday we had 100% in the altar call and Wednesday we had near 100% participation. God blessed and moved and I am so thankful.
Preaching at the jail reminded me of something that happened during City Reach Wichita. The Blue and White Gospel Tent was set up at a busy intersection and the pulpit area was only a few feet from the sidewalk. The last night of the meeting we were having a little electrical glitch right at church time and we were trying to get it sorted out.
I stepped out of the tent onto the sidewalk and a well dressed man stopped his car in the street, got out and approached me. I thought he was coming to service but he got out of the car just to talk to me.
He said, "Hey, you are that preacher that preaches at Sedgwick County Jail. I heard you there three years in a row and one day while you were preaching I went to the front and gave my heart to the Lord. I was saved that day and still saved now. I have a job and my life is back on track. I just wanted to thank you!" He reached in his wallet, pulled out $5 and gave it to me over my protest as he hugged my neck on the sidewalk and was gone as quick as he came.
There have been weeks I have been here the last ten years that I really did not feel up to preaching at the jail and preaching revival. In fact, I was too tired for the jail this week. But the story of the man at the tent on the corner of Lincoln and Hydraulic last year compelled me to go. Maybe one of the men I preached to the last two days heard the message they needed to make the commitment to God and turn their life around.
That is the power of the Gospel that I believe in so much!
The Gospel message demands a proper response.
An 18 year old kid told us after Tuesday's jail service that he saw us during City Reach Wichita and even heard me preach but did not pray under the tent. I told him, "IF you had responded that night to the Gospel under the tent, there is a very strong possibility you would not be in jail to hear me preach today." He had to admit that I was correct. A real salvation experience would have prevented the mess he has caused in his life since then.
It is important to respond to the Gospel while you have a chance.
Thanks for reading.