Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
It’s New Year’s Day—what resolutions have you made?
What resolutions have you made as you start this new year? I’ve made a few in the past, a few I’m embarrassed to recall. You know—the kind that last about two weeks.
This year, I’d like to encourage you to consider resolutions that go beyond the small and personal. Consider making at least one big resolution that is focused, not on self-improvement, but on looking outward: a resolution that embraces your neighbors and your culture.
Someone I know who is doing that is Ron Gruber. His modest New Year’s goal: to win his prison for Christ.
Ron is a former biker gang leader who has spent years in and out of prison on charges ranging from rape to murder. One day, on the run from authorities, Ron armed himself with a gun and hid in the woods. That’s the day, he later said, “When I realized how lost I really was, how much I needed the Lord.” He begged for forgiveness—and turned himself in and was sentenced to fifty years.
Not long afterward, Ron enrolled in the InnerChange Freedom Initiative® program launched by Prison Fellowship. He waded through Bible classes, educational opportunities, and vocational training. He apologized to his victims. He began to mentor fellow inmates and pray with them.
In 2005, a unit manager in the segregation unit noticed Ron’s ability to calm his fellow inmates. He invited Ron to visit prisoners in the “hole” to see if he could help them with the behavior problems that put them there. Ron agreed on one condition. “I’m not going to talk to the guys about [not] wrestling with the guards,” he insisted. “I’m going to tell them about Christ.”
Because Ron himself had spent time in solitary confinement, the inmates listened to him—and their behavior began to improve.
Because of his murder conviction, Ron will probably be in prison a long time. What better New Year’s goal for him, then, than the one he has chosen: to witness to every inmate in his prison about Jesus Christ?
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, members of our Centurions have a few big ideas of their own as well—great examples for the rest of us. One of them told me, “My New Year’s resolution is to teach Christian bioethics to my church family [and] my theology students.”
Another Centurion announced he was leaving his job, moving to Georgia, and joining a small animation company. His resolution: to help shape the worldview of children through creative and biblically sound media.
Yet another Centurion has resolved to teach Christian worldview classes to inmates at a Texas prison; he has recently received permission from the prison chaplain to do so.
These are tremendous resolutions—the kind our Lord would heartily approve of. When you are making your own resolutions today, ask yourself: Are they as centered on Christ as Ron Gruber’s? Are they as committed to life-changing outcomes as our Centurions?
So go ahead, if you must: Resolve to lose those pesky holiday pounds, exercise daily, and obey the speed limits. But I hope you’ll also have at least one great and glorious resolution on your list: to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to transform the world around you for Jesus Christ.
This commentary originally aired January 1, 2007.
|Today’s BreakPoint Offer|
In The Faith DVD Curriculum, Chuck Colson and Gabe Lyons discuss the foundational tenets of Christianity in six sessions.
|For Further Reading and Information|
Zoe Sandvig, “Amen & Amend: Transformed IFI Graduate Reconnects with Some Old Enemies,” Prison Fellowship.
Watch the amazing story of prisoner and IFI participant Ron Gruber, a man transformed by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 061211, “Wide Angle: Live What You Believe.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060526, “America’s Prisoners: Targets for Transformation.”