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Ready for Senior Prom after leading scores of juvenile inmates to Jesus Christ in May 2003

TIME FOR ONE MORE PROGRAM?
By Pastor Marc Unger

“Do you have time for one more program?” asked the Chaplain. But my son and I had already done one extra program today and this was his Senior High School Prom night. We had already done packed programs that day for a Juvenile Boot Camp, a Teen Ranch and two programs at the Juvenile Hall before the chaplain asked the question. A quick nod from my son indicated that he was game for a final, unscheduled, Karate program in the Maximum Security unit at the Juvenile Hall.

Chaplain Ron Climer of the Southern Baptist Convention told us that we only had 10 minutes to talk to this group of eight young men. We cut our normal Karate demonstration down to only several holds and releases in close quarters. Then, with time running out, I opened my talk by telling the inmates, approximate ages 14 through 17, that they have a mortal enemy that hates their guts and is out to further ruin their lives and that his name is Satan, the devil.

When they answered my question affirming that they felt my son and I could indeed be expected to be able to defend ourselves if we had to, I asked, “What good would all our self-defense training do us if our enemy was invisible and immaterial—you can’t see him and you can’t touch him?” I continued by explaining that they were involved in an intense spiritual warfare for their very souls against an invisible and immaterial enemy, Satan and his demons. We explained how Jesus Christ loves them and died in their place. I said, “You did the crime, you were found guilty, you were handed the death sentence and there were no other avenues of appeal. Then, Jesus Christ showed the nail scars in His hands to the Judge and stated that He died on the cross to take your rap because He loves you. He was convicted. He went to death row. He died in the electric chair or by lethal injection for YOU!”

“And what does He expect of you?” I asked. “That you repent of (turn from) your sins, accept what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross and purpose in your heart to follow Him from this day forward. Because, as the Bible says, ‘…if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come’ (II Cor 5:17).

“When you commit yourself to Jesus Christ,” I said, “the Judge will strike down His gavel, look at you and say, ‘Not guilty.’ Then, striking His gavel again, He will say, ‘Case dismissed.’ A final blow of the gavel and the words, ‘Expunge the records,’ will be heard.’”


You could have heard a pin drop when I told the eight teenagers that I was going to ask them to stand to their feet if they wanted to turn from their sins and receive Jesus Christ at that moment. At the question, all stood without hesitation. My son and I huddled into a small circle with these young men and asked them to pray with us—out loud—if they truly understood and wanted to follow Jesus Christ as Lord.

After their prayer and obviously moved, each inmate shook the hands of my son and I and, one at a time, we all hugged each other. We told each young man, personally, that we love them and Jesus Christ loves them and admonished them to live for Him. Then we and our two drivers turned to exit Maximum Security. First, the steel grated door shut behind us and then, the solid steel door. In the stark, concrete block hallway, the Chaplain asked all four of us to stand up against the wall. We did so immediately. He stated while pointing his finger at me, “You don’t know what you just did, do you?” “No,” I confessed. Looking toward a man with a “Supervisor” shirt, the Chaplain said, “Tell them.”

The supervisor stated, with tears in his eyes, “I believe that the commitment those young men just made in there was real, but you don’t know who you just talked to. All eight,” he continued, “have been tried and convicted as adults. Together, they will be serving prison time of over 500 years! One is a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Another has been convicted of two murders and is serving two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. All the crimes were gang and murder-related: five of the others are serving 40 to 50 years each and the inmate with the shortest term is serving 29 years!”

Awed at what God had just done in that room, tears came to my eyes and a lump grew in my throat. Then, my dear friend, Chaplain Ron, took a step toward my son and I, pointed his finger directly at our faces and said with great determination, “YOU JUST GAVE THEM THEIR LIVES BACK!”

And that is why we do what we do. “Do you have time for one more program?” You bet!

Pastor Marc Unger is a Seventh Degree Black Belt, owner/Chief Instructor of Marc Unger Karate of Exeter and Pastor of Exeter Baptist Church. His son, Daniel, is a Fourth Degree Black Belt Karate champion in Kata, Weapons Kata and Fighting and is a licensed minister and instructor at Marc Unger Karate. Both are privileged to be Platform guests with Champions For Life Ministry (formerly Bill Glass Evangelistic Association).

 
 
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