I want to introduce you to a friend of mine who is an entrepreneur, the owner of multiple businesses, an outdoorsman, a sports enthusiast, a husband and father, and most of all, a brother in Christ who loves Jesus and wants to make Him known to others. This man’s missional focus is an amazing encouragement to me and to those that know him. I had the opportunity to sit down and ask Rickey Minton some questions about one of his missional outposts, the men’s prison in Pikeville, TN.
Q. How do you share hope with the men of the prison ministry you are involved in?
I had an idea to take my passion of power lifting into the prison ministry that I have been involved with now for a few years. I had a thought that if the prison administration would allow me to go into the weight rooms and just workout with the prisoners, I could develop some relationships that could move them toward a Bible study or worship time I do at the prison. This opportunity was afforded to me, and God went to work.
Q. What happened next?
One evening while working out with the prisoners, a young man who was obviously a little outside the norm, even for maximum-security prisoners, approached me as I was bench pressing. He started asking questions and filling me in on the last several years of his life. He was associated with one of the many gangs that are present in our culture today and was even a high-ranking member.
He had a shaved head, tattoos from head to toe, and his eyes were almost glowing blue (I later found out that he had injected some color into his eyes to get this effect). He had a powerful physique and was generally fearsome looking. After listening to his story, I began to tell God’s story and how forgiveness and restoration was possible through a relationship with Jesus. He prayed and asked Jesus to live in his heart, asked for forgiveness for his sins, and then asked me for a Bible.
Q. Do inmates frequently ask you for a Bible?
Q. What Bible have you found to work well in that kind of environment?
I have found The Message Bible to be a fantastic tool for this ministry. The reading level and the fact that it’s written in American English make Scripture easier to understand. So, I gave him a copy. Soon after that I was having regular conversations with him about the Bible and many of the stories he was discovering within the pages. He soon made the decision to get out of the gang. He shared with me that he had never read the Bible and understood it the way he does when he reads The Message.
Q. So do you think The Message Bible makes a significant difference when trying to get someone with little or no exposure to read God’s Word?
He said, “It makes the Scriptures more clear.” Just two weeks ago I preached a Sunday service, with about 70 or so in attendance, and this young man was present. It was a Holy Spirit-filled service and several men came forward, and prayer filled the room. After the service this young man wanted to talk with me, and these were his words: “God is my life now, and I have read the entire Message Bible that you gave me. After I read it I sent it to my wife on the outside. She read it and was saved by the grace of Jesus. I am getting out in four months and my wife and I want to go into the mission field to serve God. Can you help me with that?”
My response? “Praise Jesus, and yes, I can.”
Q. What would you say to others out there who are looking for ministry tools like The Message?
This is one of many stories that I have about The Message. I have encountered people who are resistant to any text other than the King James Version, and I understand and respect that. But I believe that God wants me to use whatever tools are at my disposal to win souls to His Kingdom. The Message has been one of those tools that have worked in my ministry.
When Jesus walked the earth, He used fish, boats, grapevines, prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors, and many other methods to win souls to the Lord, and I believe He expects us to do the same. Use the tools that God has given you. He is definitely changing lives with The Message Bible. I praise God that someone was far thinking and Spirit led to pen this text.
Winfield Bevins is the founding pastor of Church of the Outer Banks, and he has just completed Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith (NavPress, September 2011).
Creed ties the needs of today’s contemporary Christian to historic faith. The book provides an outline of Christianity’s essentials for believers who are trying to sift through the vast and sometimes treacherous ocean of Christian literature and doctrine. Creed focuses on such theological issues as doctrinal, ethical, and spiritual foundations that are the result of the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.
Creed is an ideal discipleship tool. New believers will find answers to basic questions about the faith while mature believers will find renewal by revisiting these foundations. The first part of the book focuses on the Apostles’ Creed and explores its relevance for today. The final part of the book discusses the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.
I really like the book’s suggestions for studying the Bible as well as the sections that prompted me to reflect on and respond to my own understanding of Christianity’s foundations.
Winfield is a member of the Acts 29 Network and is involved with coaching and training church planters from many different denominations across the United States. He is passionately committed to discipleship in the local church.