By Warren Miller, Missionary-Athlete, Indiana Crusade
Years ago, the Miller family ventured to NH where we stayed at a Christian camp where a mare named Sugar Bee grazed casually under a tree. She was nothing spectacular to look at until you brought the halter with you into the corral, placed the blanket and saddle on her back and led her out to the staging area to ride – then she perked up and was all the horse anyone could hope to ride.
That is similar to what happens to me when we near a prison: I put on my sports glasses and cleats, the glove and helmet in hand, and we walk in. The adrenaline is racing through this 49+ body anxious to handle the 3rd base hot corner and I really get wound up. Now I am going to do it for 5 days in Indiana!
Crusades can be extremely tiring, but my teammates do all they can to lessen the physical exhaustion from traveling, playing multiple games, carrying equipment and expending the emotional energy necessary to stay focused while playing and ministering. They also are like mother hens worrying about me at 3rd base especially when I move closer for a double play or try to get on ground that is more level!
While at Putnamville CF, I presented the Gospel message using John 3:3 and John 19:38-41. After the message, the first person to approach me was a young black inmate (initials D.S.) who handed me his response card. I noticed he checked the first box on the card indicating he received Christ into his heart! His eyes conveyed his sincerity and his mouth confessed that he had accepted Christ that very day while in prison garb. When I asked if I could pray for him, he said he would really appreciate it! Two men – separated by generations, our skin color quite different, and only one of us with the freedom to walk out of the prison – are eternally bonded together because he is a “New Creature”! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17 (ESV)
When we arrived at Pendleton CF, a security detail pulled up in their vehicle to inform us that the entire facility was in lockdown mode. Instead of fretting, we gathered and prayed over the situation. Shortly thereafter, the two officers returned and informed us that the lockdown was lifted and we could go into the prison. We processed through security, walked to the field, began warming up and even sat for pictures taken by the Recreation Supervisor. Almost immediately after that impromptu photo op, the Warden himself came to the field and informed us that he had no choice but to cancel the game; there was an incorrect headcount and for our safety, the yard was going to remain closed.
God’s sovereignty is hard to understand sometimes. I felt blessed and humbled that God used me at Putnamville CF to bring D.S. to the cross, but found myself taken “out of the game” at Pendleton CF the very next day. Frustrating to be sure, but please allow me to let you in on a secret: I stopped questioning how God works in my life and this ministry a long time ago! Many prayer warriors back home were praying for our safe travels as we embarked on the IN Crusade, for protection while ministering inside, and for receptive inmate hearts to the gospel message. It may not be how we expected, but I can say unequivocally that – once again – He answered every one of those prayers!