Have you seen “The Heart of Texas”? The film tells one of most amazing stories of grace and forgiveness you will find outside the Bible. It is a true story in which Grove Norwood plays himself. The first time I saw this documentary was at Ginny Nixon’s lakehouse for our Merry Ministries leaders’ retreat a couple of years ago. There was not a dry eye as we watched it.
A couple of weeks ago, Brenna Whitley, from our Tuesday class asked me if I would meet with her and Grove for a lunch meeting. How could I say no to meeting this incredible man of faith? Brenna had been telling me bits and pieces about her work with him.
So today was the day! I had a lunch meeting with Grove, Brenna and my daughter, Jill. Grove didn’t talk so much about the film as he did the impact of the film and the things it has led to. AMAZING! The hand of God is all over this. He wasn’t wanting or trying to make a film, but Promise Keepers first wanted to do a short version of the story. Dan Patrick (state senator) saw it and wanted to make a longer version. The film has now been seen all over the world and has won many awards. But that’s not the best part.
Without Grove’s knowledge, prisons in Louisiana and Texas started showing the film to inmates and lives were being changed. Prisons started calling Grove and asking him to come and speak. Inmates began giving their lives to Christ.
And there’s so much more to the story. Angola, Louisiana, had the bloodiest most violent prison in the country. It was old, dirty and dangerous. It is still covered in blood, but now it is the blood of Jesus. The prison is clean. Every man has a productive job. Seminary classes are held taught by professors from New Orleans Baptist Seminary. The prison is now a community with five churches, steeples and all, on the campus . . .err prison grounds. After the chosen inmates graduate from seminary they spend two years at other Louisiana prisons as pastors. What they have found is that the prisons now have less violence. The inmates are more productive and those who get out of prison are now more likely to stay out rather than repeat the offenses of their pasts. I saw several videos of testimonies of the men in these prisons.
Amazing grace! These hardened murderers and criminals who had no hope are now loving caregivers in the prison. Some have been trained as hospice workers to the aging prison inmates. Others are repairing wheelchairs to be sent to needy people all over the world. The stories go on and on.
Now, Grove has brought the program to Texas. With the help of Dr. Paige Patterson of Southwestern Theological Seminary and Senators Dan Patrick and John Whitmire, the Darrington prison at Rosharon, Texas, now has a seminary class for 40 inmates who have qualified. This will be a pilot program for Texas and they are trying to do it in the best possible way.
Two thoughts kept running through my head as I listened to Grove. One was how God had taken a tragic loss in Grove’s life and used it for the good of so many. The other was this quote from “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby:
“God takes the initiative to involve His people with Him in His work. He does this on His timetable, not ours. He’s the One who is already at work in our world. When He opens your spiritual eyes to see where he is at work, that revelation is your invitation to join Him and His activity. What God purposes, He guarantees to complete.”
Why did Grove want to meet with me? I don’t know yet. I am praying about what God would have me do.
Stay tuned . . . but in the meantime, rent or buy “The Heart of Texas.” http://www.heartoftexasthemovie.com/?gclid=CNXYjsmejagCFYwH2godwgmoDQhttp://www.heartoftexasthemovie.com/?gclid=CNXYjsmejagCFYwH2godwgmoDQFollow Merry Ministries online
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