By Thomas Doohan
“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”
Thomas Doohan listens to Wayne County Sheriff Thomas Hutchinson as he speaks about restoration.
Those words from Augustus M. Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages,” are pretty much all I can remember of my trip to the Wayne County Jail with my colleague Bobby Warren on April 11, 2015.
Bobby is a member of Parkview Christian Church and on that April day he was filling in for his friend, Jeff Terwilliger, who heads up the congregation’s prison ministry.
Apparently, Jeff was unable to lead that weekend, and Bobby stepped up. He was tasked with bringing the word to the jail and sharing with those wanted to hear it.
On Friday, Bobby asked me to come along and I did, for which I’m glad. It was an honor to listen to him preach and to hear my friend share what is so clearly the passion of his life — the Gospel.
Bobby’s preaching was rich, the worship was fine and it was a gift to be asked partner in the work Parkview is doing in the jail. I won’t soon forget it.
I was asked to handle prayer requests from the inmates and to pray for them. But, I have to say, beyond that I don’t remember many details from the morning other than the words of the song running through my head.
As Bobby preached, the words kept ringing in my head, and I started thinking of who I was and who the inmates were.
The inmates listening to Bobby were in a low spot. Gathered in three separate groups (men who were in jail; women who were in jail; and men who were being transferred to prison), they were all dressed in colored jumpsuits and orange, plastic Croc-like sandals. Deputies stood in the back of the gym, listening to Bobby and watching the inmates.
From what I could tell, things were easier for our crew. I am pretty sure we all picked out our own clothes that morning. We chose to be there and nobody was watching our actions. They were in bondage, and we were free.
Despite our stark differences, the words of “Rock of Ages” reminded me everyone in that room was the same: Broken.
I was reminded that in front of a perfect God, all is stripped away. Jumpsuit or button-down, it doesn’t matter, man’s filth is exposed in front of God. Naked, in front of the Lord, with nothing to offer, we can only ask for his cross, his clothing and his grace.
“Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
This guest blog is by Thomas Doohan, a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio.