The Council Speaks

Series: Council Speaks | Story 2

Question: I have a friend who's an inmate. She accepted Jesus while being incarcerated and will be getting out soon. She's afraid that she'll fall and go back to her old life when she gets out. Any suggestions that I can pass on?

Answer:

First off, just let me say, "Praise God!"

Your friend's story is a beautiful reminder that Jesus still saves; there isn't a concrete wall thick enough to shut out His light.

I understand the emotions your friend is experiencing. Before I devoted my life to Christ I was often in trouble with the law. I spent my twenties in and out of jails and rehab centers. I tried everything to overcome my addiction and change my lifestyle, but I failed time after time. I didn't succeed because I didn't have Jesus.

So, your friend has already made the most important step by going to the Lord. Now it's time to walk in the newness of life-putting away the old ways and embracing the new. Here is my encouragement to your friend (speaking from personal experience).

She will need to grow in her knowledge of God's word and develop a strong prayer life. These two are extremely important. God's Word will teach her how to live and to discern between the spiritual things, and she will need to constantly communicate with God.

She will learn to walk by the Holy Spirit who brings conviction concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). She will then need the fellowship of a strong and healthy church that exalts the name of Christ and prioritizes God's Word. The fellowship of the church provides mentorship and accountability (In her case it would best if she were surrounded by mature godly women of faith).

The next step would be to enter into discipleship. Lord willing, she would settle it in her heart to be faithful (committed to being discipled and dependable). Hopefully, she is available (makes time for her discipleship pathway). And she will need to be teachable (willing to take advice and or correction).

In this process of being discipled, she will learn that she is, first, a worshipper (Psalm 95:6) of the one true God.

The one who is mentoring her should then explain to her that a disciple of Jesus is also a witness for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Then she will find out that a disciple is a servant-serving God and serving people (Matthew 20:26–28).

And lastly, as she is growing and maturing in the faith, she, along with the rest of us, should strive to be a disciple maker. We share everything we have learned because the Lord Jesus said, ""All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV).

-Mark Little Elk is from the Lakota Nation. He is an evangelist at heart and serves as senior pastor at Cass Lake Alliance Church in Cass Lake, MN. Mark also travels the states preaching the gospel and teaching archery.

Answer:

It's exciting to hear about your friend coming to Jesus! Here are a few basic things that would help her to stand when she gets out.

1. Plan ahead.

Set up for success before you get out!

You'll need a support system, or it will be very difficult to make life work on the outside. Here are a few basic survival musts.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" Galatians 5:1, NIV

2. Establish a devotional life

Get into a habit of daily devotions, including reading the Bible and memorizing Bible verses, before you get out (studies say it takes 21 days to form a habit). After you get out, you can continue Bible reading and praying and be strengthened in that way. Indian Life Ministries has a devotional book, Council Fire, that would be very helpful in this area.

"Thy word have l hid in my heart, that l might not sin against thee" Psalm 119:11

3. Find a good, Bible-believing church.

Look for a good place where you can worship God and connect with other believers (we all need a place to be accountable). Sometimes the chaplains can help you with that, or if you write to us here at Indian Life, we may be able to offer some suggestions. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" 2 Corinthians 3:17

4. Choose your friends wisely!

Most likely, the friends you used to hang with were a big part of why you ended up incarcerated. You need to make sure and choose friends that are going to be a positive influence-ones that will lift you up and not drag you down.

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" Proverbs 18:24, NIV

5. Decide what you will be doing.

Everybody needs to find his or her place in life. What kind of a career do you envision? When you are released, you should have something like that in place. If you can line up a job or job training, that would be a big step forward. If you need some schooling or training to get to your goal, line that up. Sometimes there are halfway programs that can be a big help in this area because they provide short-term housing while you are getting on your feet. Pray a lot about it. Ask God for real wisdom, guidance, and direction.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" John 8:36, NIV

Realistically speaking, these are things that every believer needs for everyday life. Following Jesus is not just a one-time decision; it's a lifestyle that becomes the biggest part of who we are.

Milly Jackson and her husband, Kene, have their home in southern Alberta, but spend much time traveling in music evangelism ministry. She grew up in the Métis community of Cormorant, Manitoba, and through marriage is a member of Whitefish Band #128 (Alberta).

 
 
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