Since February the School of Christ has been going to Rikers Island—New York City’s main jail complex. There are nine different prisons on the island, but we have concentrated on one, the Otis Bantum Correctional Center. It is by far the worst prison on Rikers Island. It is not like any prison I have been in before. Its America’s Lurigancho Prison (located in Lima, Peru), very violent and filthy. A recent article in the New York Observer stated that the CIA was going to investigate the practice known as “splashing” at Rikers. This is where prisoners throw urine, blood, feces, and worse, at guards. The city is planning to spend $700,000 of this year’s budget to find out exactly what kind of nasty fluids inmates are flinging at correctional officers. This disgusting practice is a felony, and the proposed tests would help investigators find necessary evidence to punish offenders. This is the situation at Rikers.
In February, the largest attendance at any of our services was eight inmates. This month when we returned we had sixty inmates. That is the largest crowd the prison has ever had in a religious meeting! In every service there were interruptions. In the last service the guards shut us down forty minutes early. They had received a tip that one of the inmates in the service was about to be taken out by a gang who was waiting for him. Despite all the interruptions, God moved in a great way. The worship, led by brothers and sisters from Times Square Church in NYC, was awesome. We had two ex-convicts and retired NYC detectives testify; then I preached. About two-thirds of the men made a commitment to the Lord. Praise God! We have a small group now studying the School of Christ. This has been a massive move going into Rikers Island, but I believe it is just the beginning. Two prison chaplains are working with us. Please pray for us that the Holy Ghost would lead us as we work at Rikers Prison. I believe Paul and Silas’ prayers and songs were the key to what happened at that prison in Philippi. What a great Gospel; even the vilest of men were loved on the cross. For the past twenty-seven years I have seen it happen over and over again!
Thank you for your prayers and support for the prisons of this world. When Paul and Silas were cast into prison in Philippi, whipped and chained, they had no idea what God was about to do through them. I had no idea either, but it has been an awesome journey. Again, thank you for your support of the SOC Prison Ministry.