(actual text 1 day before prison ministry)

Linda Lopes: “Hey Jimi, working on lesson for DVI (Deuel Vocational Institute, Tracy Ca.) this morning. This is such a powerful lesson on our sin patterns and God’s forgiveness. I feel led to end the lesson with a salvation invitation. Will you keep this in prayer?”

Jimi Merrell: “Of Course!”

(actual day of prison ministry)

Linda Lopes (to 100 inmates): “I know you have been hearing about Jesus for sometime, but who is ready to become new and ask Jesus to be their Savior? I only want people who have  never prayed this prayer before to stand up – who says I want Jesus today…?”

Slowly but surely they began to rise…first one, then another, until 17 men from the protective custody unit stood in their standard issue “blues” to receive Jesus as their Savior! As Linda led them in prayer, other inmates laid hands on them in support as they made the most important decision of their lives. The entire chapel erupted in cheers as these orphans became new brothers in Christ!

But it only gets better…

After a quick call out from Chaplain Mary, 4 men came forward to be baptized! Full submersion is not an option at DVI and resources are very limited. So these two creative daughters of Jesus made due with what was at their disposal; a Crystal Geyser water bottle and an old broken coffee mug. One by one the men stated their names as Chap. Mary poured the precious water from the broken vessel over their heads. There was a perfect mixture of tears and laughter from the baptizees as well as  the witnesses in the pews. Each of their faces told the same story: “We may be in prison, but Christ has set us free!”