Lives Are Changing!


Catherine Lawes walked in and out of Sing Sing Prison, the toughest prison of the 1920’s, without a worry, even brining her three small children with her.  She insisted on getting to know the prisoners and their records.  One man, a convicted murderer, was blind.  She asked if he read Braille.  “What’s Braille?” he asked.  So she taught him how to read.  She found a man who was deaf and mute and went to school to learn sign language so she could teach him.  Tim Kimmel in Stories for the Heart said that many felt that Catherine Lawes was the body of Jesus that came alive again in Sing Sing.  During the years from 1921 to 1937 many changes took place in that prison, not just in institution itself, but in the men who were imprisoned there.

Lewis Lawes was the Warden and when asked about the transformation of the place he said, “I owe it all to my wonderful wife, Catherine, who is buried outside the prison walls.”

The greatest testimony a person can have is a changed life.

Jesus came to change lives.  In Mark 5:1-20 we read the dramatic story of the man Jesus encountered in the cemetery in Gadara who was possessed by demons.  This man was uncontrollable, unrestrainable, and  unreformable.  Then Jesus walked into his life and loved him, believed in him, and fought for him.  When this man truly understood who Jesus was, he saw his need, and seized the opportunity to be set free.  The result was permanent, positive change.

The surprise twist for me in this story is that even though this man wanted to follow Jesus, the Lord told him “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 NASB).  He did that and the Bible says, “all the people were amazed.”  They were amazed by his changed life.  And they had to acknowledge the person who changed it, Jesus.  Someone said that Jesus was only in Gadara for a few hours.  He found a madman and left a missionary.

Catherine Lawes died in a car wreck in 1937.  The following day her body was resting in a casket in her home three quarters of a mile from the prison.  The “acting warden” who took Lawes place that day saw all of the prisoners standing packed against the gates of the prison.  These were the toughest and most brutal men in the United States.  As he came closer, he saw looks of anguish and tear of sadness.  In an unheard of act of trust among prison inmates he said, “Alright you can go.  Just be sure and check in tonight!”  He opened the prison gate and those criminals walked, unguarded the distance to Catherine’s house to pay their respects.  Kimmel said, “Every one of them checked back in.  Every one!”

Jesus loves us just like we are, no matter how awful we have been.  He saves us and plants a seed of life in us that begins to grow and change us from within.  He loves us like we are, but loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Lives are changing in Greenville.  Only Jesus can do that.


Your fellow pilgrim,


Bro. Kelly


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About the author

Pastor, Church Planter, Evangelist and Consultant in Chandler, Arizona. Licensed by Second Baptist Church in Lamesa, Texas. Ordained by Trinity Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Youth Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Irving, Texas 1985-1987. Pastor at Dixon Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas 1987-1999. Pastor at Wellspring Church in Chandler, Arizona July 1999 - July 2009. Currently serving as Executive Pastor at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas. Available for Pulpit Supply, Interims, Evangelistic Crusades, Revivals, Bible Conferences, Seminars, Pastoral Consulting, Church Consulting, Capital Campaign Consulting, and Conversation over a Coke Zero.