I’m going to share a rather lengthy story about an inmate, a battered copy of the Bible – The Quiet Hour hardcover edition, and a godly man named Keith Johnson.
I first met Keith Johnson in 1991 as he was leading a weekly Bible study group in a State Prison in Norco, California. I was an inmate firefighter working for what was then called the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).
Keith was the Director of Prison Ministries for a media ministry called The Quiet Hour. He faithfully conducted his Bible Study at that facility every single Monday night without fail.
I was invited by a fellow inmate to Keith’s bible study. I thought it was odd that the group didn’t meet in one of the designated rooms at the facility’s chapel. Instead, it was held in the staff boardroom. When I got there, I realized why. This was not the typical 5 or 6 guys in attendance – there were 20 to 30 guys crowding into this boardroom! If you were late, you stood around the edge of the room.
Keith introduced us to Jesus Christ that night and every Monday night – as characterized in 1 Corinthians 13.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Every Monday night, we came loaded with questions about how to lead Christ-like lives….as inmates! Keith would weave an answer to our questions from pertinent Bible texts in a way that always culminated with 1 Cor. 13. The words in that chapter together with the liberating Holy Spirit was and still is the key to motivating the appropriate action or verbal response to any situation.
What I learned in that boardroom enabled me to understand parts of the Bible that make no sense if not placed in the context of 1 Cor 13. It enabled me to successfully complete parole while I was a seminary student at Weimar College.
I have shared the same principles I learned in a California prison with Bible students from all over the world, including Japan, Korea,
Venezuela, Mexico, and many countries in Europe.
I just wanted to say thank you to Keith Johnson, a friendship spanning decades now. A big thank you also goes out to The Quiet Hour. I still study and teach out of the same Quiet Hour Edition, Large Print, Hard Cover KJV sent into the prison for me with Keith.