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Some years back there was a young boy whose parents neglected and abused him. He had never known even the simplest act of a parents love such as being tucked into bed at night. For three long years the boy's parents forced him to wear the same two pair of pants and the same two old, ragged shirts to school every day. Eventually, out of shame (and a complete lack of parental guidance) the young boy quit school in the ninth grade and spent the better part of his youth living under bridges and in public restrooms.

 

Several years later that same young boy, (now a young man), is in a South Carolina prison, laying on the cold floor, curled up in a fetal position in the corner of a dirty roach infested death row prison cell. He lay there completely oblivious to the filth and the stench that surrounded him. His name was Rusty. He had been tried for murder and had received the death penalty. The deputy chief of staff to South Carolina’s governor was a man by the name of Bob McAlister. Bob was a Christian, and he regularly ministered to the inmates at the prison, especially those who were on death row. Bob said this of the first time he saw Rusty:

 

“It was a pitiful sight. He was lying on the floor of his cell, a pathetic picture of a man who believed that he mattered to no one. The only signs of life in his cell (Bob said) were the countless roaches that crawled over everything, including Rusty himself. He didn’t make any effort to move or even to brush the roaches off of himself. He just stared blankly into space.”

Day after day, visit after visit, Bob McAlister tried to reach Rusty by telling him of the love that Jesus had for him and of the opportunity that he had, even on death row, to start a whole new life in Christ. This went on for many months until finally, one day, Rusty began to show small signs of being aware of this stranger who kept invading his cell to tell him about some man called Jesus. Then one day as Bob was telling Rusty how much Jesus loved and cared for him, Rusty began to weep. And on that day....in that cold, dark, roach infested death row prison cell....Rusty Welborn, a pitiful man with murder and darkness in his past and his own death closing in on him gave his heart to Jesus Christ. Bob McAlister said that when he returned to Rusty’s cell a few days later he found a brand-new man. "The cell was clean - Rusty was clean, he had renewed energy and a whole new outlook on life."

Over the course of the next five years Bob McAlister continued to pray with Rusty and study the Bible with him and the two of them became very close friends. This young man who had never known real love in his entire life was absolutely amazed and thrilled about the love that God had for him. Then came Rusty’s execution day, and Bob McAlister visited Rusty one last time. Rusty said to him, “You know, the only thing I ever wanted was a home - and now I’m finally going to have one.” Bob read the Bible to Rusty until he thought he had fallen asleep and gently placed a blanket over him, kissed him on the forehead, and left Rusty’s cell for the last time. A few hours later, as they laid him on the gurney to prepare him for death, Rusty thought of how just a few hours earlier his good friend had lovingly placed a blanket on him and kissed him on the forehead. Rusty looked up at the person administering the deadly solution that would soon be coursing through his veins and he said to the man, “What a shame it is that a man has to wait until his last night alive to be lovingly tucked into bed for the very first time.”

Ladies and gentlemen, all it takes is just one person to share the love of God with someone else and their life, too, can be completely transformed by the incredible love of God. The same love that reached all the way down from Heaven into that dark, damp, roach infested death row prison cell and lifted a man up to the glory of Heaven can do that very same thing for anybody - anywhere in the world.

 

It may be tonight that you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ. You have never asked Him into your heart. You have been searching and you have tried the drugs, the alcohol - you have tried everything that you can think of and yet none of it has accomplished anything toward satisfying that empty lonely feeling deep down in your heart. In fact, the only thing you have found is that the loneliness is worse now than it has ever been. Please - listen very carefully to what I am about to tell you - Jesus Christ can and will fill that emptiness and He can do it right now, at this very moment. The truth is that Jesus Christ is the Only One Who can provide you the peace that you have been chasing after for so long. No matter who it may be the fact is that the heart of every person in the world ultimately longs for a power greater than themselves. A power that will lift us up, help us, and comfort us as nothing else can. It is only through the Cross of Jesus Christ in the person of Jesus Christ that those longings and desires of the human heart be fully met and satisfied. Don’t put it off. God help you in taking that all-important step of faith, and you can do it right now.

God bless you,

Mark Shutts

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