For an entire year a young man I’ll call Brian came to hear the Bible preaching in the “Blue Prison” section of Kuthama Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison where he is serving a life sentence for murder.
Every Tuesday, I went through another Christian doctrine such as humility, personal responsibility, justice, Biblical manhood, true and false repentance, the doctrine of punishment, and the role of government. My goal was to draw the men to Christ through simple Bible teaching on these vital themes.
This year I continued teaching, yet Brian as one of my brightest students from 2015 didn’t return. Yesterday as I taught the handful of men who remained, he stopped by to greet me. A portion of our conversation is reproduced here.
Seth: “Why aren’t you coming back to study the Bible this year?”
Brian: “From 1-6 pm is my time to sleep so that I can study for my other courses.”
Seth: “So, you are so disinterested in learning the Bible, that you would prefer to sleep in prison when I come from the outside to teach?”
Brian: “Well, we have different doctrine. You have your teaching, and I have mine. This is the way I was brought up, so I can’t change that.”
Seth: “Brian, is there anyone else in the prison that preaches the doctrines I preach?”
Brian: [After thinking] “No.”
Seth: “On Sunday do you go to church?”
Seth: “And does an inmate usually preach?”
Brian: “Yes, each week it is a different one.”
Seth: “Have you ever heard one of those men preach the message that I preached about humility, repentance, and the gospel?”
Seth: “Please remember my eyes and voice pleading with you, Brian. Because if you cannot endure to hear the gospel being preached, then you are in great danger of Hell.”
The brief interview ended with us both realizing that African Christianity which includes the prosperity gospel and charismaticism is fundamentally different—and can have no fellowship with—true Christianity.
But I fear that many well-meaning Americans and others coming from the cities may hear God-talk and the name of Jesus Christ, and then ignorantly assume that “There are so many Christians!” They would rather sleep in prison than listen to gospel-centered, Bible teaching. Does that sound like the work of the Holy Spirit?