Helping and Enriching Lives Through Prison Ministry

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Welcome to the New Normal!


Dear Supporters, Brethren and Friends,

Welcome to the new abnormal! All of you are in my prayers as we navigate this new frontier. The good news is that the Department of Corrections’ facilities were allowed to open the first week of June at the discretion of the local wardens. Two of the prisons I regularly teach at, Lawtey and RMC, are back open on a limited basis – temperature checks at arrival, masks worn while in the prison, and no more than nine in a group including volunteers. The limitation on inmates attending includes our Sunday service at Lawtey. So, with two volunteers we are limited to having seven inmates! That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are many prisons still closed to volunteers. Many of those facilities have had or are having active cases. There has been a pronounced resurgence of the virus in the last month in the prisons. DOC provides a summary page of COVID19 tests and infections at each facility. It is updated daily. Here is the link if you are interested…

Family visitation has been suspended at all prisons since March and at least until August 17. Like everything else around, the situation is fluid. It is difficult to get into any kind of consistent pattern in the prisons now. At RMC, I was having 10 to 15 men in my class every week before the shutdown. Since the re-opening the most I have had is three. It is discouraging, but we continue to pray that things will improve. I continue to correspond through USPS with many inmates. I confess that writing letters is not at all my preferred method of teaching. It takes so much longer for me to convey a thought by letter than if I were sitting across the table teaching. These men need encouragement desperately. If there are any brothers out there who would like to write to an inmate brother, then please let me know. Things at the transition house continue to be about the same. We are back meeting together for class on Monday and Tuesday nights. I generally teach the Monday night class, but Greg Whipple fills in occasionally.

Gary Wyder is back teaching the Tuesday night class. Our congregation is having Wednesday night Bible Study now so that gives the men another class to be involved in. All the men who can work are working still. So far, none of the men in the program have tested positive for the virus. Whenever any of them have experienced symptoms, we have had them tested and segregated as best as we can. There is no practical way we can isolate anyone in the program. We have eight men in the program spread out over all three places. We don’t have any new men due to come to the transition houses for the next several months. 2 As I continue to work with men out of prison, the growth in some is obvious, but with others I fear for their soul. I have been focusing on Proverbs 13:4 with the men lately.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. This verse helps us to see that there is a level of desire (craving) in all of us – even in the sluggard. Almost all men desire a better life. Almost all men desire a better relationship with their families. Almost all men want peace in their lives. Almost all men desire not to return to prison. However, most never achieve those things especially for the long term. Why? They are not diligent, persistent, industrious in their efforts to attain those things. It takes great effort to change. It takes patience and hard work to restore broken relationships and build new ones, to have a better life, and to have a life of peace. Solomon tells us that only the diligent are richly supplied. It is so clear over time which men are diligent in pursuing their cravings. It is so rewarding to see men richly supplied in their soul. We are striving to build diligence in each other through our transition program. I wish we had better results! All my personal congregational support has continued through these difficult times. Many individuals have continued to give generously also. Thank you for your diligent craving to see these men offered a chance to restore their souls. I am so grateful to all of you and to our God who richly supplies our needs.