Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries Newsletter Volume II Issue I
The Barbed Wire
Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries Newsletter
July 2006 marks 6 years since the birth of Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries Incorporated. It has not been a full-time venture for those years but it has been one of the most exciting times of my life as I serve our glorious and merciful Father and his loving Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, through the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Barbed Wire's feature article, "6 Years and Counting", tells of how God began it all.
After committing a horrendous crime, a man comes to faith and is challenged to continue to trust God even as he faces years in prison. 1 on 1 shares not only the challenge of a new believer but the challenge God gives SOCPM in being a 1 on 1 mentor.
The Barbed Wire offers two articles that I hope will feed your soul towards having a heart for those who are incarcerated.
May He be glorified,
Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries
6 Years and Counting
God's Blessings upon SOCPM
It was July 2003 when I first volunteered in a prison ministry to serve at Cook County Jail through Willow Creek. In July 2004 the call to serve was confirmed through prayer and my 1st visit to the infamous Angola prison in Louisiana. I was like a racehorse anxious to get in the starting gate to begin the race but God kept me in the back lots to train and equip me. Then in December 2005 while serving in Danville Correctional Center on a New Years Eve weekend God revealed to me my first glimpse of His vision and mission He had planned for me. It came while reading 2 Timothy about the Soldier's call and his character. I asked God, "Is this what you want me to do?". The reply was "Yes, I want those who are in prison to become Soldiers of Christ."
As I look back over what God has accomplished through SOCPM since my first visit to Angola I see a truly awesome God using me in ways that I could never have imagined. God has used SOCPM for His call in 19 Illinois Department of Correctional facilities and 5 Illinois county facilities.
Shared Christmas Carols and cookies
Distributed over a thousands of pieces of literature through cell by cell visits
Shared the gospel, one on one, with 100+ men
Signed up hundreds of moms and dads for the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree program
Formed informal and formal partnerships with small inner-city ministries and large national and international ministries to provide resources for the incarcerated and services for after incarceration
Given certificates in recognition of completion
76 men in SOCPM's Renewing Fatherhood
46 men in SOCPM's Discipleship 101
419 men in New Life Corrections Transforming Incarcerated Dads
Facilitated a team of volunteers in grading 10,000+ Bible lessons since 2008
Most recently mentored a man in a county jail
Honored to be named Volunteer of the year at Sheridan Correctional Center.
God willing, the remainder of 2012 will allow another 80 men to participate in Renewing Fatherhood and 20 - 40 men in Discipleship 101. I am planning the implementation of a new SOCPM 'Christian Primer' to teach men how to interpret and study the Bible, have fruitful and confident prayer lives, how to share their faith. I will continue to volunteer with New Life Corrections in teaching "Transforming Incarcerated Dads" in seven IDOC facilities and continue to facilitate the grading of Bible study lessons. It is my prayer God will use SOCPM to mentor additional men in county jails.
God has opened a new door for SOCPM. I've begun the steps to begin discipleship of another inmate. I will be ordained in August allowing me more opportunities to provide one on one discipleship.
Romans 12:1-2 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.". This scripture has been the life verse of SOCPM and is shared to SOCPM students countless times. It is my hope and prayer that, by Gods grace, the men will live out that verse and will indeed become Soldiers of Christ.
It is only through the grace of God, His blessing of my lovely bride Michelle, encouragement of friends, Redeemer Fellowship church, and the prayer and financial support of ministry partners this was all possible. I thank you from depths of my soul and heart for all of you.
1 to 1 God's challenge for a new believer and SOCPM
A great team of volunteers has been meeting Tuesday nights at my church, Redeemer Fellowship, for a few years to grade Bible study lessons completed by inmates. It is a blessing to see the spiritual growth of the students with each lesson.
Such was the case for Gary (not his real name) awaiting trial in a county jail. Each lesson asks the student to summarize what was read and to describe how it applies to their life. Gary's answers were detailed and asked insightful questions.
The Holy Spirit prompted me to pursue discipleship of Gary, one on one. I was a bit uncertain but the Holy Spirit reminded me that my first prison ministry mentors encouraged me in the role of discipleship. After getting the 'OK' from the director who oversees the program, i wrote Gary offering to disciple him and he accepted.
Gary's was clearly guilty and facing a sentence of 25 - 40 years. In his mid forties he will spend most of his remaining life in prison. Struggling with the reality of his future he attempted suicide.
When I met Gary I shared Romans 8:28 and told him despite his crime God still had a plan for his life. He was being placed on the front lines in the war of good versus evil where the harvest of lost souls are a a plenty.
God was used others to speak into Gary's life and as each of us spoke to Gary our individual links became the unbreakable chain of God's power.
As we continued to meet each week Gary had insightful questions or struggles and God used this opportunity to grow both of us.
Gary was becoming more accepting of his fate, but still struggled with forgiving himself. Through my pastor, I shared 1 John 1:8-9 that we our unable to forgive ourselves but can be assured that confessing are sins as wrongful and asking for God's forgiveness, God does forgive and cleanse those who believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ.
My sessions with Gary ended in early June after he was transferred to Stateville. Because I am a volunteer chaplain policy restricts me from having any correspondence with Gary and it is unlikely I will see or talk to Gary again. But I feel confident the journey God has waiting for him will give Gary purpose and bring glory to God. Gary's passion to learn will be used by God to grow him in Christ and make him Soldier of Christ on the front lines of darkness.
God will use all things for his good to those who love Him.