Our Spiritual Work Should Not End with the Rapture – “The Least of These
I believe the Lord is coming soon. Are you ready for the Rapture? Are you praying for and reaching out to those you know need to come to the Lord?
The hour is late – the world seems surreal – on the brink. Many nations do not have sustainable economic or energy plans. Civil unrest is escalating. The stage is being set for a new world leader to ascend to power. He, the Antichrist, will speak of peace and prosperity but will usher-in the greatest period of suffering and devastation the world has ever known – the Tribulation period.
Scripture notes that true believers will be rescued, via the Rapture, from the horrors of the Tribulation period. However, as faithful believers, our responsibility to help draw people to Christ does not end when we die, or with the Rapture. We must invest now in the spiritual harvest that others will reap in the future.
We must prayerfully consider who will likely be left behind after the Rapture. How can we pray and reach out to these future believers and ministry leaders? What resources can we leave for them? How can we facilitate their coming to the Lord and spiritual growth? With mature believers raptured, who will serve as leaders in the post-rapture world church? Let me share something the Lord has recently helped me to see.
I have the opportunity to view prison life in a maximum-security wing of a State Penitentiary. The experience is eye opening. The countenance of most of the men I’ve had contact with is fierce. There is much aggressive posturing, gang activity, coarse words, and intimidating body language. It reminds me of a wild wolf pack where there is much baring of teeth. Someone new is constantly challenging the leadership to establish their place in the pack.
However, surprisingly, I find that when talking with these men one-on-one, the walls come down, bravado de-escalates. Their brokenness yields a certain transparency that reveals more brokenness. Most have experienced tremendous loss and hurt, come from dysfunctional homes, and have little hope.
They know about God but do not know the Lord. They crave family and purpose and often perceive that what they crave can only be found in gang affiliation. Oh, how they need the Lord and a good church!
Amazingly, the gang ‘families’ operate similarly to the Church in Acts. The men are absolutely committed to each other. Today I prayed with the leader of the ‘Skin-Head’ group. He was about to go to a disciplinary hearing where he will likely be told his custody term will be extended.
This man is ‘taking the fall’ for contraband found in his cell that actually belonged to his cellmate, a junior member of his group. As junior members are afforded big-brother type protection, the senior member agreed to take whatever punishment the junior deserves. Though some behavior here is questionable, the leader’s loyalty to his group is commendable.
I see that inmates are quick to give of the meager possessions they are allowed. They look out for each other, protect each other, and go to extraordinary lengths to encourage and help each other.
Some years ago, I heard about a High School basketball team that had a player with Down Syndrome. This player suited up for every practice, enthusiastically encouraging his teammates and bringing water and towels. During the last game of the season, the coach fulfilled his promise to let the young man play a few minutes in a game and sent him onto the court.
The crowd grew quiet when the ball came into play and was passed to the young man when he was at the half-court line. He slowly dribbled toward the basket as members of the opposing team graciously made way. When he was a step in front of the free-throw line, he stopped, then took a few seconds to prepare for his shot.
Players from both teams gathered around him. He took his shot and made the basket. The crowd erupted into cheers. Members of both teams swarmed the boy, congratulating him—what an inspirational moment.
In this prison, the same sense of comradery is in evidence. When one rejoices, all rejoice. Small achievements and significant victories get celebrated. The man who does 50 pushups is encouraged by the man who does 500. Waltons-style, the men tell each other good-night, every night.
There are many good things to see among ‘the least of these,’ for those who have “eyes to see.”
Recently, I had a strange thought: I was considering what character and personality traits will be beneficial for those called to lead in ministry during the Tribulation period – particularly during the last half of the Tribulation.
These special servants will need to be fierce, street-wise, brave, adept at evading, willing to sacrifice, and fully committed to those they shepherd, and they must be unafraid to resist authority. I see many of these attributes in the men in the prison system. Perhaps that is, in part, why caring for those in prison is emphasized by Jesus in Matthew 25:36,44.
Wouldn’t it be just like God to use an unlikely demographic, such as former prisoners, to accomplish a great work for His glory? Perhaps these ‘least of these’ will be the 21st-century fishermen Jesus calls into special service.
I find myself looking for opportunities to serve and invest in these men, and I am praying for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to family members and those I know most need the Lord.
As the day of the return of the Lord draws near, let every believer – every Watchman – carefully consider how to reach people today, and invest in what will be a mighty Kingdom work during the Tribulation.
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