But wait, this isn't about begging for money. Well, I'll still take donations for workbooks for my next Financial Peace University (you can see how to give here...) but this is about needing YOU.
So here's the deal. I've been doing my Financial Peace class at Goose Creek Correctional Center since July, and that's going great. Four weeks ago I started my second class of it, and at the same time launched the Bait of Satan curriculum from John Bevere, which teaches how to deal with forgiveness & bitterness. This isn't where I need the help (unless you really feel a call to get involved with either class.)
Earlier this year I attended a God Behind Bars service at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center and was blown away. It's a video service, utilizing the video feed from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The inmates put up a high quality audio/video setup and present a high energy, high impact service that the inmates connect with. At the same time, inmate's families can watch the exact same service at ChurchInside.com .
After that service I told Phil, the Alaskan director for GBB, that if they ever got the program into Goose Creek I'd love to help in some way. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago... Arctic Slope Regional Corp had donated over $30,000 to purchase the equipment and Goose Creek and the administration at Goose Creek had set aside the gym and provided Correctional Officers for a Friday night service. After my Financial Peace class, I head over to the gym where the inmate volunteers are getting ready to set the equipment up for the first time. Phil is there and so is Jake Bodine, the founder of God Behind Bars. And so is Scott Thompson, the Faith Wing chaplain who up until now has been charge of GBB at Goose Creek.
I get into the gym and Scott looks at me and says: "Hey, I've got another commitment on Friday nights, so you are in charge of the GBB service. Phil will be here to help for a few weeks, and then it's all you."
Wow... Okay. So now I'm the campus leader for God Behind Bars at Goose Creek. In our first service we had 40 inmates. Not bad for the first service with very little advertising. And then this last week, in our second service, we had not 40 inmates, but 140 inmates. We more than tripled in one week.
That's where you come in. I need you. I need volunteers for the Friday night service. You don't have to sing, you don't have to preach, you just have to be there. You greet the guys, you participate in the service, you pray with them.
I'd like to have enough volunteers to have several different teams so you wouldn't have to go out every week, unless you wanted to go out every week. I'm lookin' for individuals, men's groups, small groups, bibles studies and prayer groups. For everyone's safety, it needs to be men or married couples. But, if you are single lady and want to get in on the fun, there's the GBB service for the ladies at Hiland.
Time is of the essence. The services have already started and I expect them to keep growing. The gym only holds about 250 guys and the prison is already talking about maybe having to do a couple of services to meet the demand. To be a religious volunteer for DOC you need to fill out an application with a pastoral reference and attend an orientation class. There is an orientation class coming up here in the Valley on November 12th. You can see the details on the class here...
So this is me. On my knees, begging. I'm not asking you to make a lifetime commitment. Give me every other week for the next three months. Or something. Anything. You won't regret it.
Maybe you can talk to your Pastor, or the Men's Ministry leader at your church. If they've got questions, I'll do what I can to answer them. I can be reached via email at FPUinWasilla@gmail.com.
Here's my perspective on prison ministry. Regardless of what these guys did get into prison, the truth is that 94% them will eventually be released. 66% percent of them will be back in jail within two years. But, if they are part of faith based activities that drops to 33%. We can help give these guys a second chance at life. And not just them, but their families, their communities. 38% of the inmate population in our state is made up of Alaska Natives from almost every village. Wanna impact every community in Alaska without having to get on a plane? Just make a 40 minute drive down the road. Give it a shot. Let's see what God can do...