Abundant Life

Gateway to Glory - April 2018.jpg

Jesus says in John 10:10;  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  The testimony you are about to read brings this scripture into the light, sadly and beautifully.
“῾Your brother is dead. I'm sorry. Do you have plans for his body?’ That's what the cop said when he informed my family of Michael's passing. I was 21 years old. This was the beginning of a journey down a very dark and destructive path, a journey fueled by isolation, self-pity and drug addiction. My logic was simple, however defective: if Michael wasn't given another chance to live, then why should I live? It was textbook survivor's guilt. I became a slave to my sin in the most extreme ways in a desperate attempt to fill the giant hole in my heart, which only got bigger as the years passed. I was truly dead in my transgressions, in every sense: physically dead (overdose), mentally dead (obsessed with my sin), and spiritually dead (totally self-centered and drowning in self-pity). On June 5, 2017, I was prepared to end my life. On that day I made one last cry out to God and He responded in a miraculous way! He sent an angel to stop my suicide and be the vehicle that delivered me right into His loving arms. I found myself on the other side of the state in the Teen Challenge program and this is where God opened my eyes and my life was forever changed. During that season, God did a work in my heart that I cannot explain. The logic still eludes me. My mind runs wild to comprehend what no mind on earth could understand: GRACE! I got out of Teen Challenge and was able to get into the Gateway to Glory program, which has been incredible. Since then, God has been teaching me and blessing me as I continue to walk with Him every day. I have a full-time job and was promoted to manager. I have plans to finish my Psychology degree and become a Christian counselor. I am building good, strong friendships with godly people at Bethesda Christian Church. And I have a foundation that will never fail, even if all else does! That foundation is Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lamb of God took my place. His blood was poured out and my sin was erased. It was MY death He died and I was raised to life!  Today there is no hole in my heart.  Rather, there is a whole in my heart.  Hallelujah!  Thank you, Lord!”
It is such an honor and privilege to be in partnership and linking arms with Life Challenge and Teen Challenge as one of their aftercare programs to help men and women remain in a discipleship program as they reintegrate back into society.
This month began with a time of fellowship and appreciation for the volunteers of the Macomb County Jail.  Every two years the volunteers are required to update their credentials by filling out paperwork, and we combined an appreciation meal for them.  We always find this meeting to be beneficial to each volunteer because of the live testimonies from former inmates.  This year we had two former “guests of the county” give testimony as to how the volunteer religious services impacted their stay at the jail.  For many volunteers, this was a “shot in the arm” that their ministry is not in vain!  Additionally, we showed our appreciation by giving certificates (suitable for framing) to each volunteer testifying to their selfless service, care and compassion.  At the end of the night many volunteers remarked that they were refreshed and reinvigorated and ready to get back in to minister! 
Near the end of the month we had the distinct pleasure and joy of witnessing 4 residents of Gateway (and one former resident) get confirmed in Christ.  They all made a 6 month commitment to a foundational class called “Knowledge, Relationship and Destiny” where the attendees learn and participate in the sacraments.  The final sacrament is the sacrament of confirmation with the laying on of hands to seal the things they learned.  This is a great time of celebration, additionally for the residents, it is even more significant because these men made a commitment to finish and they accomplished that goal!
Since Easter was on April 1st this year, we decided to pack and pass out the Easter bags on March 26th (pack) and 27th (pass).  With Judy R (the official bag lady) leading the charge and the helping hands of 42 folks from various churches, we packed 1200 bags in the space of 33 minutes – a new record!  It’s such a sweet time of fellowship, joking around and some light competition during these bag packs, it is not considered work, but a joyful time.  Afterwards, prayer was offered up for each bag that the inmates (and staff who also receive bags) would recognize they are valuable and loved by a Savior called Jesus.   Thank you to all of you who came out to help, and thank you to the churches who regularly help us out with purchasing the items needed for these bags.  (Throughout the year we ask for gift cards to Sam’s Club to fill Christmas and Easter bags).  They make a huge impact on the inmates and officers!
We ended the month with the reminder of Jesus’s death on the cross that ransomed us from our sin on the day we call Good Friday.  Chaplain Steve reported that the service he regularly conducts on Friday mornings was exceptional, perhaps due to the weight of sin that Jesus’ sacrifice brings to our minds.  Praise God, He allowed the Father’s will to be done so we could be free from sin!
Abundantly thankful,
Chaplains Steve and Robin Malek'