Last week, the Saints Prison Ministry had another opportunity to travel to Florida and minister in prisons. This time, it was in the south eastern part of the state. We visited 6 different prisons and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ to about 1,000 inmates. 56 men made a commitment to follow Jesus! It was truly an unbelievable experience. In my 21 years of serving in this life changing ministry, it just never gets old!
Due to the pandemic, we were shut out of all prisons last year. While we have traveled to 33 states over the 34 years of this ministry and have had great relationships with all of them, there were certain states that absolutely loved what we did and would invite us back year after year. We have journeyed many times to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, New York, and West Virginia, to name a few. Florida is another one we have also traveled to over the years, but this year proved to be different. While Ohio did welcome us for a weekend visit, Florida was the only state that was willing to allow us to visit multiple times this year. In fact, we have already had three crusades there and will be going there again next week.
While God may have closed the doors on the other states for now, He certainly allowed the door to open for Florida. It has brought our relationship with administration to a much deeper level and they can’t wait to have us back already. It has been such a blessing to the prison staff and to the inmates.
This reminds me of how God closes and opens doors in our lives. Think about the times that God closed a door in your life. We may have felt lonely or scared and even wondered why He did it, only to discover later down the road that it was the absolute best thing for us. We didn’t see it at the time, but looking back we know that God was protecting us and had our best interest at heart. That’s our God! That’s the God we serve! His love for us is unmatched!
In Acts 6, Paul, Silas, and Timothy experienced this:
Acts 6:6-10 NKJV
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
In the region of Phrygia and Galatia, as well as in Bithynia, Paul and his companions wanted to share the Gospel, but God closed the door to that opportunity. We don’t know how or why God stopped them from speaking the Gospel or going into a certain area, but we do know that He did. For whatever reason, God didn’t allow Paul and friends to do the work that they wanted to do for Him. He had other work for them to do, so God closed the door in order to move them to where He did have work for them to do.
Knowing that God had opened a door for ministry, Paul and his companions didn’t hesitate; instead, they immediately walked through the open door. Their simple and immediate actions displayed their total and prioritized commitment to God’s work in their lives. Paul and his companions didn’t wait to figure out all the details and make sure that everything was planned for and provided for; they sought to step in faith. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t plan, but it does mean that they prioritized obedience to do what God had called them to do above all else.
You may be currently experiencing a closed door situation. It could be losing a job, losing a close relationship with a friend or family member, or one of a million other possible scenarios. While it may not make sense to you or be easy to walk away from, be encouraged by Paul and his companions and trust that God will open a new door in your life. Know that God always has your best interest at heart. Continue to walk in obedience and just like them, God will equip you for whatever you need!