Feb 7, 2014

Prison Ministry... A Captivating Experience

It's been 9 months since I was in a meeting where Jim Duncan, the statewide Chaplaincy Coordinator for the Department of Corrections, made a call for volunteers for the newly opened Goose Creek Correctional Center. It's been 8 months since I first went out to Goose Creek and met some of the inmates. And it's been 7 months since I taught my first Financial Peace University class with 20 guys from the Faith Wing program at Goose Creek.

Last week I graduated my second class of guys. I've had about 35 guys complete the 12 weeks of Financial Peace University. And in two weeks I'll start my 3rd class with 22 new guys. I wasn't sure how Financial Peace would be received in prison... The guys aren't earning an income (unless they happen to have a job in prison, where they make 50¢ an hour) so there's nothing to budget. But the guys are loving it. The sign up sheet for my next class filled up within an hour of being posted. I've been told there are guys trying to get into the Faith Wing just so they can take my class.

But that's not all that I'm up to. I've also taught one 12 week session of the Bait of Satan from John Bevere. This curriculum teaches how to deal with bitterness and unforgiveness and how to handle being offended. Again, I wasn't sure how the course would be received, but the 20 guys that went through the first class were deeply impacted and my next class that will start in two weeks is also full.

But wait, there's more... In October I was part of launch of God Behind Bars at Goose Creek and now I am in charge of the Friday night service. God Behind Bars utilizes the video service from Central Christian church in Henderson, Nevada. We have around 80 guys from General Population that come each week for service. We have also launched a Sunday morning service for the guys that are in the pre-sentence/pretrial mods. You can watch a great video report on the impact God Behind Bars has had at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center here...

So it's amazing how much can happen in less than a year. I am so thankful that God has opened this opportunity for me. When I started I had no idea how all this would work out. Each inmate going through the Financial Peace class needs a $20 workbook. The prison does not provide any funding for the Faith Wing classes, so it was all on me. I put out a call for help on facebook and on this blog and with 26 hours I had all the money I needed for my first class. Enough was also given to cover my second class, this class I'm about to launch and two other classes I'll do in 2014. By the end of this year, almost 100 inmates will have gone through the class.

I'm still accepting donations for future classes at Goose Creek. If you'd like to support this financially, you can get the details here... But my biggest need right now is not financial. I need people. For the Friday night God Behind Bars service I'm out there by myself. And I'm doing my best to make a connection with as inmates as possible, but I'm just one person. I'm still looking for local individuals to come out and be a part. It's not complicated... It's just being there to talk with and pray with the inmates. It would be a perfect outreach opportunity for a men's group. There's a volunteer orientation class coming up soon for getting your volunteer card for DOC.

I want to say a HUGE thank you to all who have given towards my efforts at Goose Creek and thank you to all have prayed. And the guys I've been ministering to also wanted me to pass on their thanks. Often they feel like the world has tossed them away and forgotten about them. But they still matter to God and when their sentence is up they will rejoin society. I see their time in prison as a chance to bring the light and truth of the Gospel to them. We serve a God of second chances. He gave me a second chance, He gave you a second chance and these guys are doing their best to make something of their second chance.