Happy Anniversary, Eden Unleashed Wesleyan Church!

As I sit here in my living room and write this blog, I can’t help but smile. This month marks the 1 year anniversary for Eden Unleashed Wesleyan Church, the church Mercy Unleashed planted inside the New Castle Correctional Facility in New Castle, IN. There is no chapel inside this building of the correctional facility. When I met the men for the first time, I asked them where they attended church and they just shook their heads. There was no church service for them. I asked them if they wanted a church and they said they did… and with a naïve confidence and excitement I said, “Great! We will have our first service in two weeks. How does Friday nights work for you guys?” I don’t think they believed me at first. People who are incarcerated are used to people lying to them and letting them down; but just the same, they were ready for us on that first Friday night when we arrived.  It was August 15th, 2019 at 7pm, when Eden Unleashed had its first church service. As I mentioned, there was no church or chapel in the building, so the men converted an upstairs classroom into a church. When we arrived and walked through the classroom door, the room had been transformed. There was a lectern at the front of the class for me and all the chairs were set up in uniformed rows. The men were coming into the room, filling every chair. They sat patiently, with their Bibles on their laps. The room took on a hallowed presence. The Spirit of God was present and you could feel Him. I am not shy. I have always enjoyed public speaking and I love to preach… but I don’t think I had ever been so nervous as that evening when I approached the lectern turned pulpit. Suddenly it was all very real: I was a pastor. There were people looking at me, real people, not fellow students in a class on preaching...  no, this was a room filled with incarcerated men, all looking at me, waiting for me to feed their souls with the Word of God. I had worked days and hours, pouring over the message I was about to give, but I was suddenly unsure about the words I had written. I have heard pastors talk about God “changing” the direction of a message just before they were getting ready to speak. Nothing like that had ever happened to me. However, on this hot and humid Friday night, as I stood there, God was definitely in the house. I began to speak... and a new message, given to me by Him, began to flow from my lips. I began by saying, “I don’t know why I have been blessed with the opportunity to be your pastor. You men deserve a pastor who is better than me; more experienced than me… but God has called me to this place and as only He can ordain, God has called you to this place. One thing I do know for sure is that He does not always call those who are equipped, but He does always equip those whom He has called.” From there, I barely remember the words I spoke. I really wish cameras were allowed inside the prison so I could have recorded this message and pulled from it for future sermons... but as I said, the words were not my own. The author of my first sermon was God. Happy First Anniversary, Eden Unleashed Wesleyan Church! In Him,

Pastor Bernie

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