Sep 28, 2013

FPU @ GCCC is in the home stretch!

I just have one week left in my first run at coordinating Financial Peace University at Goose Creek Correctional Center. It looks like I will have 14 guys graduating this time. In my last post I mentioned that one gentleman told me he just wasn't connecting with what was being taught. He's been incarcerated for twenty years and in that time hasn't written a check, or paid a bill, or even had actual cash in his hand.
But last week's lesson was on giving and living a life of generosity.  And really, that's the point behind Financial Peace. By being a good steward of what God has giving us, it puts in a position to be a blessing to others. This week that same guy told me he now he gets it. He feels like he's connecting to the material. Stories like that make the sacrifice worth it!
So I'll wrap this class up on October 4th, and on October 11th I'll start my next class. I was hoping for a good turnout.... And today I found out that all twenty available slots are full!! And thanks to your previous generosity, I've got the cash on hand to buy the $420 worth of workbooks I'll need for these guys.
But I'm already thinking ahead to the class after this next one. So in future updates, I'm gonna be doing some begging. And I will do it unashamedly because I believe in the potential for this class to reduce the recidivism rate here in Alaska. 94% of inmates today will be released at some point and within 2-3  years 66% of them will be back in prison. For the inmates involved in the Faith Wing program, that number drops to a 33% recidivism rate. Our statewide chaplaincy coordinator, Reverend Jim Duncan wants to see that number drop to under 25% before the end of the  year. And my goal is a 0% recidivism rate for the guys that complete the Financial Peace class.
I believe this is possible. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. But I know this is bigger than me, so I want give you the opportunity to be be a part. If you'd like to give, you can see your options for doing so here at this post.
 In addition to starting my new FPU class on the 11th, I will also be starting a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. The class will equip the students to deal with offenses, bitterness and unforgiveness. I wasn't sure how this class would be received... Participation in these classes are completely volunteer, and the inmates give up their recreation time to be in the class. So the question was "would anyone be willing to give up their free time to dig into the crap of their past?" Well, apparently they would be because this class is also full with all 20 slots taken. I was able to order the curriculum and it arrived in the mail today.
I am still in amazement over the doors God has opened for me lately. And I'm humbled by those of you who have put your money towards it. I want you to know that an impact is being made. Thank you to those who passed on encouraging words and who have been praying. More great stuff is ahead! I promise to keep you updated as things go along!

Sep 7, 2013

FPU @ GCCC: Things Are Getting Interesting!

When I posted last week on the progress of the Financial Peace University class at Goose Creek Correctional Center I was pretty pleased with how things are going. This week I'm over the moon!!

The class itself is still going good.The guys are still engaged and enjoying the class. But I did have one of those moments that can break your heart... One of the older inmates shared with me that he's not fully connecting with a lot of the material. He's due to be released in 5 months, but he's spent the last twenty years in jail. It's been two decades since he worked a job, wrote a check or held a dollar bill in his hand. Wow... What do I do with that? I didn't know how to respond, and I just pray that once he gets out there and gets going that God will bring this stuff back to his mind.

But rather than get me down, this encounter has motivated me to keep pushing. I need to be doing all that I can to get these valuable lessons to the inmates. And that's why I'm so excited right now. This current class that I am teaching will wrap up on October 4th and I'll be presenting the men with graduation certificates. And then if all goes as planned, instead of loading up and heading home I will stick around and be a part of the inaugural service of God Behind Bars at Goose Creek.

God Behind Bars uses top notch audio & video equipment to present a high-energy, high-impact prerecorded church service in prison. And at the same time the men are in the service in jail, their families on the outside can watch the exact same service online. In addition, they also offer a Celebrate Recovery program and an aftercare program for the inmates once they are released. I've attended the God Behind Bars service at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and was blown away by the power of what God was doing among the inmates.

With the God Behind Bars service being on Friday night, I can be a part of it without having burn up fuel on the 54 mile round trip out to the prison. I'm really excited about the impact God Behind Bars will have on the men. So that is on October 4th. The next week on October 11th, I will start my next class of Financial Peace University with a new group of 20 to 25 guys. And the great thing is, I've got all the money I need for the workbooks for that class!!! You guys responded with such generosity to my earlier call!! But, if you want to give towards my next class, the information you need to do that is at this link....

But that is not all that will happen on October 11th... My Financial Peace class is from 2pm to 4pm, but before that from 1pm to 2pm I'm going to be teaching a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. This class will deal with the issue of offense which is often the most difficult obstacle an individual must face and overcome. Jesus said, "It is impossible that no offenses should come" (Luke 17:1). You cannot choose whether or not you will be offended, but you can choose how you will respond. This message will empower the men to stay free from offense and enable them to have an unhindered relationship with God.

In this class the men will learn how to:
  • Become stronger instead of bitter
  • Tear down the wall between them and God
  • Break free from aggravation, frustration, and irritation
  • Expose the root of wrong thinking and behavior
  • Discover submission and obedience to God
  • Embrace forgiveness and reconciliation
 So between the new Financial Peace class, the Bait of Satan class and the God Behind Bars ministry, my Fridays are about to blow up! So if you could, keep me in your prayers. And if you'd like to give, use the link above. And if you are local, there's one more way you could maybe get involved... This Tuesday, September 10th at 6:30pm there will be a prison ministry orientation class. The class will be held at Wasilla Assembly of God at 125 W. Riley Ave. If you'd like to come out and be a part of prison ministry, this class will be your first step down a very rewarding road.

God bless & thank you all for everything!!!

Sep 1, 2013

FPU @ GCCC Update

I'm way overdue for giving you an update on Financial Peace University at Goose Creek Correctional Center.

Good things are happening! I had one gentlemen tell me on Friday that being in the class is the highlight of his week. Another gentleman said he is amazed at how many things he's learned in the class and he believes it's stuff he'll be able to use when he gets out.

I've also had two different inmates on Friday who told me they wanted to be in the class this time around, but couldn't. They were worried that the class was just being offered one time. I assured them that class would offered again, and they'd get their chance to be a part. Apparently the class has a good reputation among the inmates.

This week I will be participating in a meeting with the chaplains and other teachers involved in the Faith Wing to discuss upcoming classes and curriculum. Each man in the Faith Wing is in prison because of bad choices they made. But in teaching this class, I see the light bulbs going off in the minds. They are grabbing the biblical principles that God gave for managing money. It's principles that will be an important component to their future success.

So far we've covered the basics budgeting, the importance of saving for emergencies, the dangers of debt, getting out of debt, dealing with collectors, understanding your credit score, and how our own unique personality style affects how we deal with money. Coming up we'll cover insurance, investing, real estate, jobs & careers and the final lesson, The Great Misunderstanding.

Again, I want to thank all of you that have supported me in this effort. I absolutely could not have done this without you. Each week, each inmate in the class take time to thank me for coming out there. In fact, I often have inmates who are not in the class come in and and thank me for coming out. But it's not just me they are saying thank you to. It's also to you.

One of the views I get to enjoy on the drive out to Goose Creek Correctional Center