By Michael Ashcraft
After years and years of ripping off Home Depot and other retailers Mark* finally got busted for theft. He was convicted and sentenced to 45 days in jail. So he scheduled his accumulated vacation time for his jail sentence, says Prison Chaplain Dan, who worked with Mark.
Mark went to Bible studies in the Los Angeles County Jail and got radically saved.
When he was released, he had $200,000 worth of stolen power tools that he had extracted by hiding them inside toilets and other items. He would pay for the toilet but no one ever checked inside the box.
He knew he had to surrender the stolen goods as part of his repentance. He tried offering them to the local church, which refused them and instructed him to give them back to Home Depot. But giving them back would constitute evidence against him that could lead to another conviction.
Mark was sincere about serving Jesus. So he went to Home Depot, and on videotape, gave everything back. Home Depot employees were shocked and grateful.
Mercifully, they didn't press charges!
When Mark tried to return merchandise to his boss at a retailer, boss Mike wouldn't have any part of it. Mike thought Mark was trying to frame him by planting stolen merchandise in his office.
Mark eventually found the way to return merchandise and keep his job, but Mike and Mark thought each other crazy. Mark thought Mike was a "hothead," and Mike thought Mark was a "super schemer," Dan says.
Eventually, Mike got saved as well. Dan, who knew both men, suggested they talk to each other and understand each other. They called and talked and became good friends in the Lord.
From time to time, Mark goes to North County Correctional Facility just south of Lake Castaic to share his testimony. When he got to the point where he told about returning the tools to Home Depot, two men fell out of their chairs "bawling," Chaplain Dan says.
"It wasn't even the altar call, and here the Holy Spirit fell on them and they were ready to accept Jesus," Dan says. "It's amazing the types of things that are going on in this ministry."
"I want that," one prisoner said. "God is real."
Mark continues to serve Jesus and, like many prisoners who accept Jesus in jail ministry, he has not fallen back into a life of crime.
Add: Restitution – making right (as far as you can) what you have done wrong – is an integral part of Christian repentance. It is not enough to say we are sorry, our actions must display it because, as James 2:17: faith (or words) by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.•