Helping and Enriching Lives Through Prison Ministry

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About the Work

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Dear Supporters, Brethren and Friends,

Another year in the books. It has been 14 years since I visited RMC in Lake Butler for the first time. A year and a half later I started teaching in the prisons on a full-time basis. Missy and I raised dairy calves at our house to supplement my support for the first few years. We purchased the first transition house in late 2006 and bought our second place in early 2009. Through everything God has richly supplied my family’s needs. Since that time, we have seen all three of our children graduate from high school then college, and all three of them enter God’s covenant of marriage. We even have one grandchild now! I thank God everyday that through it all our children remain faithful to our King.

I continue to be amazed at the things I learn about human beings and God’s wisdom by serving these men in prison. I recently discovered another pattern of behavior in many of the men I teach and counsel. I know. I am slow! Somethings I see were obvious from the beginning that these men are very immature. I often compare their immaturity to working with 30, 40 and 50+ year old teenage boys. It is as if their emotional and spiritual development has been stunted or retarded. I am sure that pop psychology would have a lot of interesting terms to describe their “disorders.” Although the immaturity has been easy to see, it has not been easy for me to see why. Luckily, my King provides better insight. In James 1 we are told this…

2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (endurance).4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Most men that are in prison have become skilled at running from trials. This may have been done through avoidance, isolation, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. When relationships become challenging (trial) they quit and move on to the next one, or just isolate from everyone. When something hurtful happens (trial), they fix it by getting high and hiding from the pain. Trials are designed to produce in us endurance or steadfastness. If we don’t let trials complete their work in our lives, then we never develop properly. We never gain the confidence of working through a problem and coming through on the other side. We never develop strong personal relationships with others because we never endure to see the strong bond that often occurs when a 2 relationship is tested. We never get the “full effect.” We never become complete and we will always be lacking. God is wise, and we need to trust Him!

What often happens with these men is that they get out of prison wanting to serve God, but eventually, sometimes the first day and sometimes months later, a difficult trial comes. A relationship gets tested, many times with me or someone significant from their past, a tragedy happens in their lives, or just the cares and worries of life begin to test them. They have never endured through these things before. They get overwhelmed and revert to what they know – run from the trial. They give up and relapse, or they find a woman to make them feel better, or they just leave because it gets too hard. They never grow because they refuse to endure the pain and see the trial through to the other side. Therefore, they never become complete. They never become perfect! They stay teenagers their whole lives unless they muster the courage, the faith, the strength to endure. So much of what I do is “talk men off the ledge.” I constantly tell them “You can make it.”, “I know it is painful, but God will see you through.”, “Don’t give up now.”, “It is worth the effort.”, “We love you and will help you through this. That is why you came to this program.” The men that finally decide to trust God even in the pain finally grow. We all at points in our lives must ask ourselves if we will we trust God when we hurt? Will we endure this trial His way and not the way I have always known? Our ways do work in the short term, but usually bring hurt to others and they never work over time. God knows that the only way we will grow is enduring the test.

I wish we could all grow in an easier way, but according to God’s word we cannot. This ministry isn’t really about taking away men’s pain. Instead, we teach men about a God who offers them a better way to suffer through pain and grow. A God who loves them even when they hurt, and a God whose people know how to survive trials and grow.

Thank you for your continued support.

AFTERNOON CHAPEL 2