“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Rom. 3:23
The strong, muscular man, just cleaned up and dried off from washing up, his skin still bristling with dew-like water drops, stuck one of his big hands through the slat and reached out to grab hold of one of my small wrinkled hands to tuck it firmly, safely, gently inside its warmth. Then he extended his other hand through the slat to press lovingly into its fold the hand of the trim, athletic man beside me who had just months before had significant surgery and in the past few days driven over 26 hours to rush to the side of a dying loved one to encourage him before it was too late to surrender his life to Christ before hurrying back to South Carolina for what in the next 1.5 hours would become one of the most beautiful, precious, God-given experiences of my life. As soon as we were linked together, the man with the hands through the slats began with utter joy, exuberance, confidence, boldness, and rock solid faith to pray for me as I had asked.
I had never met the man praying for me before; we had exchanged a couple of letters. Now here we stood joined as one in the Lord Jesus Christ, two brothers in the Lord and their sister in the Lord, the man praying being one of my friends on death row, the man on my right the volunteer chaplain who for over a year now had for which I was so incredibly thankful delivered my Gospel tracts, devotionals, and books to the men on death row who in my heart had become like family to me. This was my first visit to death row, and the prayer was welcome. Why had I gone to minister to these men on death row?
This is why. God sent me. He created me to love and worship Him and preach the Gospel and help people become forever Christ followers. He has given me His love for these men. I relate to these men some of whom may have backgrounds like my own of brokenness caused by the wounds of others’ sins coupled with what all of us humans have as the brokenness caused by the consequences of our own sins because we are all sinners. I want to see all my friends on death row in heaven. I want them to know God’s love now and forever and to live every breath remaining to love, worship, revere, and serve Him. I, too, was on “death row”. Whether behind physical bars or not, we’re all sinners on death row headed for death, hell, and the lake of fire because as sinners we can’t be in God’s holy and righteous presence on earth or in heaven. The only way to get off “death row” is to repent of our sins, believe Christ died to pay our death and hell penalty, and devote our lives to God. The man who reached his hands through the slat of death row’s bars to pray for me is on “life row” now because he lives for Christ.
Which side of death row’s bars are you on?