from our partnerFaithwire
written byLindsay Elizabeth
During a recent trip to Waco, Texas, NFL quarterback turned baseball player and sports commentator, Tim Tebow visited Alfred D. Hughes maximum-security prison, where he spent quality time with the inmates.
In a video shared to Instagram, the outspoken Christian athlete can be seen engaging in a pushup contest with inmates, which according to TMZ, he lost 84-71.
“We had fun, but I got smoked! So encouraged by what God is doing at Alfred Hughes prison and grateful for the time spent with my new brothers in Christ today!” Tebow wrote on Instagram.
“Excited to see how they will use their lives for the Kingdom as the [sic] grow closer to God and encourage others to live in faith!” Tebow added.
In a separate post, Tebow shared a selfie he took with the prisoners at Alfred D. Hughes, writing, “So grateful to spend time with my new brothers in Christ at Alfred Hughes Prison and encouraging them in the hope that Jesus brings!”
According to KWTX, a father of an inmate contacted him while he was in Waco, asking the Heisman winner to stop by the prison to visit his son. Tebow, touched by the father’s request, had his foundation get in touch with Discipleship Unlimited, a prison ministry in Waco, to set up the visit.
“He was just telling them that he was there because he loves them and they have a purpose and they can fulfill that purpose even where they are,” Suzanne Mabry, a Discipleship Unlimited leader said.
“And he told them God loves them and there is nothing they could have done that would interfere with that love.”
Tebow, who was only scheduled to spend a few hours at the prison, ended up spending five hours with the inmates.
“I was just so emotional, I started crying and was blown away,” Mabry added. “He was in such a rush when we left but just to spend the day doing this when he could have been doing whatever but this is his passion and it just showed. It meant so much to us, and it meant so much to the guys just to know someone cared.”
Duck Dynasty star Jep Robertson also drove up to Austin to meet Tebow and visit the prison as well, according to KWTX.
“Thank you to the Warden and the entire staff—thank you for opening your doors and letting us love on your boys today!” Tebow said in his Instagram post.
Many prominent Christian figures and churches have focused efforts on prison ministry over the past year. Lecrae, Lauren Daigle, Hillsong Church, and even an NFL wide receiver have shared their touching prison ministry stories over the past couple of months.
In July, Hillsong Church NYC sent a worship team to Rikers Island in partnership with Prison Fellowship, and 21 inmates dedicated their lives to Christ.
At the end of August, Christian artist Lauren Daigle spent an afternoon at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, engaging with the women and putting on a special concert for them.
“The one thing that we can always do is look up,” Daigle said before performing her hit Look Up Child. “You can look up and see the sky. You can look up and see the kindness of God, and His extravagant love for each one of you.”
“And I know sometimes that can be hard to wrap your mind around, but let me tell you something, He doesn’t see you by your faults, or maybe the things that you’ve done or the things that have trapped you and ensnared you,” Daigle added. “But He sees you as children, as His own, beloved from the Most High King. That’s who you are.”
Not only have individuals spent time evangelizing and preaching at maximum-security prisons, but churches are partnering with prisons to bring the gospel to inmates.
One church in Texas, even launched a campus at a maximum-security prison this past winter.
In February, Pastor Robert Morris announced that his church, Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, would be launching a campus at Coffield Unit in Anderson County.
“At Gateway Church, we’re all about people because God is all about people,” Morris, told Fox News following the public announcement. “Many of the men and women inside prison have been forgotten by society, but we want them to know we love them and God loves them, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Gateway pastor Jimmy Evans, who gave the first sermon at the Coffield Unit, pointed out they wanted to create a pattern that would give inmates a church while in prison, and a church once they got out.
“We want the people in the prisons to have a church while they’re in and when they get out, so they can be integrated back into society,” Jimmy Evans shared. “People in prison need a church, and we want to be a church family—literally.”
Franklin Graham commended Gateway Chruch for their efforts, writing on Facebook, “this church is setting a great example for reaching out in Jesus’ Names.”
“Lives are being transformed! More than 500 have already put their faith in Christ. I challenge churches across America to pray about doing something like this for the prisoners in their area.”