SBC Life Articles

From a Jail Cell

Are you always ready to give an answer for what you believe? Doug Maravolo, from Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, was, and lives were changed!

I am a member of a great church, Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. Our pastor, Michael Lewis, is strong on evangelism training. But because of time constraints I had a lot of reasons not to enroll in the evangelism training offered by my church. I really didn't think this was an avenue where I would be comfortable serving. But with urging from the pastor and our singles director, along with much prayer, I enrolled. I have been in three semesters of training and have seen great things happen.

I found myself in an unfortunate circumstance. I was arrested on a probation violation from eighteen months previously for not making restitution on a misdemeanor case. As I sat in the county jail, I thought back on times when God had used my service to Him. I missed my worship times, church friends, and family, and I was feeling sorry for myself.

While in jail I wanted to watch our Sunday services on T.V., but no one else was interested. One Sunday, though, several of my cellmates had been moved, and I was able to turn on our church services. While watching it I looked around, and to my amazement, I saw nine inmates watching the service with me. Pastor Lewis was preaching on prayer. To my right sat a black gentleman I knew to be a Muslim. He kept saying to me, "Doug, I have never heard preaching like this. Will your God answer me if I pray to Him for the things your pastor is talking about?" I assured him God would indeed be happy to receive his prayers, and he could certainly expect God to respond to his prayers.

Then God began to speak to me, "What are you waiting for? This is what you have been trained for." I was thinking, "God, we're here in jail, and this man is a Muslim." But I knew what God's response would be, so I turned to the Muslim, and calling him by name, I said, "Would you mind if I asked you a question? What, in your personal opinion ,do you think it takes for a person to go to heaven?" He gave a rambling "works" answer. So I shared with him how to have forgiveness, eternal life, and know Jesus as his personal Savior. Right there in jail this Muslim prayed to receive Christ.

Later, I asked God, "Is this the reason I'm here? Couldn't you have found a better place for me to serve You?" He reminded me that no matter where we are or what we are doing, there are always going to be opportunities to serve Him and to tell others about Him, if we will just open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts. We must be trained and ready to share Jesus at all times.

I am now out of jail, praise the Lord, but on the day I returned home, I had to take a bus. There were several stops and route changes along the way. On one of the routes, a lady sitting next to me noticed that I was carrying a Bible. She said to me, "Sir, are you a Christian?"

I replied that I indeed was a Christian. She said, "I noticed your Bible and I was wondering if you would pray for me?" I replied, "Yes ma'am, I would be happy to pray for you. Is there anything in particular you'd like me to pray for?" She said, "My life is a wreck, and I just want to get things straightened out and back on track." God immediately laid on my heart that I should ask her the same question I asked the Muslim man in jail. I did, and she gave me a very confused answer. I was able to share with her what the Bible taught about going to heaven. Right there at bus stop number seven this woman prayed a prayer of forgiveness and asked Jesus into her heart with others at the bus stop looking on.

I had to look up to heaven and laugh. Here I was just getting out of jail, wrinkled clothes, wanting to go home, needing a bath, and asking, "What next God?" I say all this to say, God will use you wherever you are, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what kind of environment. If we love the Lord and want to serve Him we must be obedient to His call to seek and to save. Sometimes we don't even have to seek, He will bring them to us!

I thank God for a church that has an evangelism program and a pastor that encourages and leads us.

What a testimony of God's grace and His wanting us to be ready to give an answer for what we believe. We know that our great Lord uses us to reach out to a lost and dying world. You need to be ready — be trained so that you will be comfortable with sharing the Gospel. Don't wait, do it now. "Everyone Can" … and "I'm It!"

    About the Author

  • Bobby H. Welch