Oct 28, 2013

Seven Months Ago....

It's amazing how fast things can change... Seven months ago I was a washed up former minister with no real direction or purpose. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic...  But I wasn't feeling to great about things. Well, it wasn't all bad. I have an amazing wife, a great family and a good job working with and for some good people.

And yet I knew there was more to life than what I was living. God creates us with a purpose. He puts giftings and callings inside of us that He wants to see us use to reach hurting and lost people with a message of hope.
So there I was, seven months ago in a meeting when Jim Duncan,the Chaplaincy Coordinator for Alaska made a call for volunteers to minister to the inmates at the newly opened Goose Creek Correctional Center. I had never been drawn to prison ministry before but sometimes in life you gotta try something new to know if it's your thing. Stepping out of your comfort zone is sometime the only way to step into all that you were meant to be.

In July I started my first Financial Peace University class at GCCC with 14 guys graduating. It was made possible by many of you who generously gave to buy workbooks for the inmates. After my first class graduated on October 4th, I started a new class on October 11th with 23 guys. I had enough finances leftover from your giving for the first class that I didn't need to beg for more money for the second class. (However, I'll launch my third class in just about 9 weeks. If you'd like to give towards that, you can get the details on how to do that here....)

In addition to kicking off another round of FPU, I also launched a class using the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere. The 19 inmates in this class are learning how to get free of the bitterness & unforgiveness that comes from being offended. It's an excellent class that I think is going to produce some great results.

As great as all this is; none of this is my big news. In previous posts I've mentioned the God Behind Bars ministry. They use top quality audio & video equipment to show a pre-recorded video service from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The service is high energy and high impact and the guys seem to instantly connect to the message. But the ministry is more than just a service. They also offer a Celebrate Recovery, which is a biblical based 12 step program and a follow up program for inmates once they are released. Through their Church on the Inside website the inmate's families can also watch the same service at the same time from their homes. The ministry will soon be in over a dozen prisons stretching from Florida to Alaska, including Goose Creek here in the Valley, Highland Mountain in Eagle River, Spring Creek in Seward and in Ketchikan Correctional Center in Southeast Alaska.

And as of this weekend, I am now the Campus Leader for God Behind Bars at Goose Creek. Which essentially means I just became the pastor of a very exclusive church. To get in, you have to be ordered there by a judge...We only had about 50 guys at our first service, but that was with almost no PR to the General Population pods. The feedback we received from the guys was very positive and I'm expecting double the attendance at our next service.

As Campus Leader I'm responsible for coordinating the services and directing the inmate volunteers in their roles. That's the easy part. I'm also responsible for raising a team of at least a dozen volunteers from the outside. That's the scary part. I've never been that good at recruiting volunteers and that was when I was on staff at a local church. Now I'm in a spot with no real connections to a local church to draw from.

So I'm going to do this the same way I raised the money I needed for the workbooks for FPU. I'm going to turn to the power of the interwebs! If you are here in the MatSu Valley and want to get involved in a very rewarding ministry, I've got a place for you!

The services are on Friday nights, at Goose Creek Correctional Center which is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Wasilla. I'm looking to build a big enough team to have people rotate, so you wouldn't have to go out every week. This would also be a great ministry opportunity for a men's bible study, Promise Keeper's group or small group/cell group.

To get your volunteer card from DOC you have to fill out a form, pass a basic background check and attend an orientation class. These volunteer classes are held every month or so, based on demand. As it happens, there's two upcoming classes here in the Valley. One is this Thursday on the 31st in Palmer and the other is November 12th in Wasilla.

The primary roles of the volunteers will be to have a "ministry of presence". Just being out there talking with the guys and being available to pray with them is all we are looking for. Sometimes these guys feel like the world has thrown them in a hole and forgotten about them. And it's easy for them to feel like God has forgotten about them. You being there brings the love of God to them.

So... To sum up a very long post. God is good. I'm in over my head. I need help. Please help. Pretty please. It'll be more fun than puttin' socks on a rooster...

1 comment:

tbbotts said...

Hi Todd- socks on a rooster? Never heard that one.I may have to steal it from you for a future post sometime. Buddy, I really admire your honesty and integrity. You've bitten off a big chunk for sure.Obviously I'm not there so I can't be too much help to ya with the new venture. Frankly, I don't know if I would get involved- I'm a pretty selfish individual I guess. Although, I don't know. I can understand how they would feel like they've been abandoned and somehow they need to be reached with the good news. It's good for them and for society.If they get out of prison without any sort of intervention then I suppose the temptation would be to revert back to the same lifestyle. I may not have any right to mention anyone else's name, but have you thought of John Moropolous? He might be willing to get involved, though I can't speak for anyone else. I believe he lives on Knik-goose creek rd. Somewhere between Palmer and Wasilla and has a church somewhere in the area. Anyway, I'll be praying for your continued success. Thanks for stepping up to the plate.