“I’ve trusted in Jesus for about six years now,” Hamid, a middle-aged prisoner confided to GEM worker Leroy Zumack. “And now I want to be baptised.”

For fifteen years, Leroy had faithfully shown up at the prison in Longuenesse, France, to minister to the inmates. He had dreamed of holding Bible studies there, but it never seemed to work out.

But lately, things had changed. Inexplicably, as if God had waited for this very time to allow the prison ministry to come into full bloom, inmates had suddenly begun to show interest in doing one-on-one Bible studies with Leroy. He had eleven of them going on! And men had come out of the woodwork with professions of faith, asking for baptism. Never before had Leroy baptised anyone at the prison. Recently, within a few months, he had baptised five men.

In the recent rash of baptisms, Leroy had developed a routine of sorts. Taking a half-Baptist, half-Presbyterian approach, he did the best he could with what he had available—the prison showers. While other inmates gathered at the shower entrance as witnesses, he gave a short talk about baptism, then signalled for a guitar player to lead the men in a song. With the guitarist absent for Hamid’s baptism, Leroy got right down to asking the usual questions.

“Do you confess Jesus as your Saviour?”

“Do you want to walk with him all your life?”

“Then I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

After dunking Hamid’s head under the running shower, Leroy led the men upstairs to the worship room for a short service. Together they recited the Lord’s prayer in English, French and Romanian, and then Leroy gave a message.

It has never been easy for Leroy to gather the men for worship services. Yet the ministry has turned a corner despite that.

“It’s going so well all of a sudden!” says Leroy. “I don’t know what happened! Someone else recently asked to be baptised, so I’ve gone from zero to six baptisms all within the space of a few months.”

For years, Leroy has passed out Bibles to every ethnic group imaginable—Ethiopians, Bulgarians, Russians, Poles and Romanians. Every nationality has passed through the prison, but now he finds himself leading Bible studies mostly with young French men, something he never dreamed would happen.

The explosion of baptisms and Bible studies may have taken Leroy by surprise, but it hasn’t taken God by surprise. He has his own reasons and his own timing. Leroy is now seeing the fruit of years of faithfully showing up, bringing the light of the gospel into a dark place, even when there appeared to be little progress.

(The original article was shortened.)
Source: Greater Europe Mission (GEM)

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