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Bondage to Freedom Seminar — Caleb Mast

Jul, 2023 | Prison Ministry, Prison Volunteer Programs

On the day of his baptism, Chris shared some words that still circle in my mind. “I wasn’t even looking for God, but he showed up and found me.” Even now, I let those words hit my heart and I wonder, how does God do that? While I cannot answer for Him, I witnessed one way that God showed up and found Chris—The Bondage to Freedom Seminar.  

Many of us from New Horizons joined efforts to make this seminar a reality. We had the privilege of serving over fifty prisoners with quality spiritual input. Chaplain Scott led the sessions based on the From Bondage to Freedom workbook provided by Gospel Express Ministries. The jail administration also granted us the opportunity to provide the entire facility with special food throughout the day. Arlynn grilled burgers out back and Louise managed the kitchen and volunteers to serve delicious food to over one hundred people. One prisoner thanked us by saying, “I haven’t had a real meal like this in over five years. Thank you!” We spent a lot of energy, but every time we serve like this, God shows up and finds us.  

The Bondage to Freedom course is designed to bring to the surface the things that keep peoples’ lives in bondage. So, it was unsurprising that the seminar evoked a wide range of responses from the prisoners. As Chaplain Scott led them through the course, grown men, hardened by years of difficult living, were moved to tears. As the course progressed toward forgiveness though, some were moved to what seemed like hardened determination — a determination to not forgive. Joe was in the front row, his head shaking with resolve that he could not and would not go there. He was not ready to go to the place of forgiveness for the people that had negatively affected his life. His unforgiveness was a roadblock on his path toward freedom. 

Following the seminar, God continued to move in Joe’s life, and he finally allowed the Spirit’s work in his heart. A week or two after the event, I was processing some things with Joe. He was beginning to see it more clearly. “I just don’t think I’m ready,” he said as we talked about surrendering to the lordship of Jesus. I left the office that morning with the satisfaction that Joe had the opportunity to see it clearly, but with the disappointment that his own life still held him captive. 

The following day Joe wanted to meet again. Since our last meeting, he had allowed God to show up and continue working in his heart. He admitted his sins and he wanted to find freedom from any darkness they could have brought into his life, but he needed to be reminded of forgiveness. “Do you remember that your forgiveness of those that have misused you, plays a big part in this?” I asked him. By his response, I could tell something real had happened in his heart; his head was not shaking profoundly as it had a few days earlier. Instead, he looked up, and with much more freedom, he said “We better get that done first.”  

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