Frank Mickes was an inmate at Marion Correctional Institute when Christine Money became its new warden. Until that turning-point, the place was “drug-infested, gang-infested and on the verge of rioting, a bad situation to be in as a young man,” he recalls, now a few decades older and free. But Mrs. Money brought to MCI a new approach from a heart “driven by God,” in Frank’s words. She invited inmates to attend a Kairos Prison Ministries weekend, 42 men at a time, and the population soon began to see change—“a feeling of inner freedom,” is how Frank describes it—in Kairos participants. The new warden also lived out her Christian faith inside the prison, listening, caring, acting and building trust. Over time, MCI became known among Ohio’s incarcerated community as “God’s house.”
Over the past few weeks, we have celebrated a Samaritan woman made new by grace before the compassionate Christ—hope dispelling disillusion, honor replacing shame, joy overcoming pain. Yet her personal change was only the beginning of a larger and lasting legacy, for her story surpasses herself. Made new in the power of grace, she returned to her people in the boldness of freedom: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did,” she beckoned, “Could this be the Christ?”1 John narrates their precious response: “They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”2 No dialogue needed, the remarkable scene speaks for itself. “I tell you,” Jesus said to his disciples as they watched, “open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper … harvests the crop for eternal life.”3
Does anything demand our notice as much as a life made new? It trumpets a triad of good news in gentle decibels to the soul: Jesus is real; He lives today; there is hope! So it was that the Samaritans of Sychar came and heard for themselves this man who claimed to be the Christ. To the woman they said, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”4 From one person’s change a community was transformed. Then who knows our impact when we tell of our own encounters with Christ? We may think our testimonies to be ineffective, but the Spirit of God works through them to spread grace, stir hope and speak life all around us. People will be changed, and God will receive the praise. Be willing, be eager; speak, and watch.
Lord God, change us for a purpose—to trumpet new life and glorify you. May people see you in us and come before you to see for themselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 John 4:29
2 John 4:30
3 John 4:35, 36
4 John 4:42