Friday, April 17, 2009

From Prison to Pulpit

Last night my husband and I had the pleasure of sitting with 550 other people at the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry Spring Banquet held at Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan. The guest speaker was Pastor Eric Earhart of Upper Room Assembly Church in Gatesville, NC.

Eric told the story of how he began using marijuana at age 12, and then, because his Dad was out of work, began stealing things like food for the family. His life quickly spun out of control through more serious stealing, vandalism, drinking, and finally, drug using and dealing. This went on and on, with numerous violent episodes involving other people, before he finally got caught in a drug deal and was sentenced to prison.

While out on bail and awaiting his sentence, Earhart had an opportunity to flee the country with his brother. But he didn't. Instead, one night, feeling total and complete despair, he dropped to his knees and cried out to God. He didn't ask God to let him off the hook, or to keep him from going to prison. He simply wanted God to turn his life around so that he could finally do something good in the world.

Eric served 4 years in prison. It was there that his faith blossomed. One thing led to another, and when he was released from prison, he immediately began doing outreach at a local church. That led to his becoming pastor at a new church plant, the Upper Room Assembly, where he is now. But that might never have happened if it were not for the Christian mentors who visited him in jail, guided him, studied the Bible with him, and were waiting for him when he got out. And that's what Good News Jail and Prison Ministry is all about: changing hearts from the inside.

What I'm writing here cannot do justice to Eric's testimony. At times during his presentation he trembled at the recollection of his dirty deeds. He stopped when it got difficult to speak and softly said "Thank you Jesus." His gratitude is overwhelming. His humility for what God has done in his life is sobering and genuine.

To watch an 8-minute video of Eric sharing a condensed version of his story, go to

If you watch the video clip of his testimony, there is a button you can click at the bottom of the page that says "What Do I Do Now?" If you have not yet made a commitment to Christ, or aren't sure what that entails, this is a beautiful, plain-spoken explanation of what it means to become a Christian. I encourage you to share this with friends and family who might not yet be experiencing the joy of walking with the Lord.

For more information on Good News Jail and Prison Ministry, go to

The local ex-inmates that testified last night about Good News Jail and Prison Ministry repeatedly said that "prison ministry works." In the words of Eric, it allows inmates to see that they are slaves to sin and in need of Jesus to set them free. The same can be said for all of us.

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:6-7

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

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