Friday, November 22, 2013


Today's blog comes from my brother, Ricky Tippett.  He has a prison ministry and spends time with men on death row through his program Straight Way.  See the video at the end.

Straight Way Ministry

An Unexpected Parting

It was anything but a typical Straight Way meeting today. It was my birthday! A month or so ago I mentioned in passing I would soon be the same age as my wife, who was actually 6 months older than I. When our 12 disciples came into the room, they all sat down and when it got quiet Nate looked over at me and said, “Hey, Rick! Happy Birthday, man!”

I was shocked anyone would remember. Robert, my ministry partner, said later he was embarrassed because Nate remembered it and he had forgotten. Our guys laughed and clapped loudly, shouting, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” I was both embarrassed and tickled, smiling from ear-to-ear. Imagine that. This group of a dozen death row inmates wished me a happy 64th birthday.

When I got up to teach the lesson that day—“Open My Eyes”--- I told the men that all of them had turned in their personal testimonies last week. 100%. I also told them I was reading one each day so that I can think about it, pray over the individual, and just meditate on the message of each testimony. I acknowledged I got weepy eyed over several.

When it was time to close out the session, I looked at our group and said, “Guys, I have a favor to ask of you.” They all looked up and I observed the surprised in most of their expressions. I wondered when the last time was when someone asked them for a favor. 

“What is it, Rick?” 

Another man said, “Sure. Anything.” 

When all of the men were looking at me and it was quiet I said, “I need you to do something for me.”

They stared at me, waiting for me to tell them, but I didn’t say anything else. I just looked at them. They had this puzzled look and suddenly one of the more intuitive inmates yelled, “HEY! HE WANTS US TO SING ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ TO HIM!”

I nodded my head and everyone broke out laughing at me, because that was exactly what I wanted.

Then quietly one man began singing, “Happy Birthday to you….” Suddenly the whole crowd jumped in and began singing in unison. It was loud as it reverberated off the concrete walls and floor. I loved every precious note of it. They came up one-by-one laughing and giving a hearty man-hug and wishing me a happy birthday.

I remember the last guy to hug me and shake my hand whispered in my ear, “Don’t give up on us, Rick.” It shocked me. It caused me to pause and stop laughing. I stared at him and he stared back. 

“No, I won’t. I promise. And don’t you give up on yourself or the LORD either.”

He smiled and walked away.

I knew at that moment God was working in all of our hearts. There is family here. Brothers in the LORD. Brothers stick together. Brothers give each other encouragement and gifts when they can. Today was the day I received one of the most memorable birthday gifts I have ever had. I received a happy birthday song from a twelve member men’s choir out of the depths of death row. How many men can say that? 
Kathy here again.  That phrase, "Don't give up on us" touched me.  God never gave up on me.  His lavish love took me from death to life!  Such amazing grace is extended to ALL! 

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