Helping and Enriching Lives Through Prison Ministry

phone icon904.631.0351



We need each other with our varied gifts to make the body effective.


I hope this report finds everyone faithful in their service to our God. The prison work continues to press forward. We suffered very little effect from Hurricane Matthew. We never lost power at our house, but the two transition houses lost power for a couple of days. Fortunately, I had a generator, and we borrowed another one from my brother in Jacksonville to keep everyone’s food from spoiling. There was no damage to either place. We were very blessed.

I am pleased to report that things are still going very well with the men transitioning to their new life in Christ in the free world. Despite adding two more men to the transition house this quarter, harmony and a spirit of cooperation and care has persisted.

I have been teaching the Monday night class at the transition house for the last several weeks. We’ve been studying membership in the local church. While the men in the program are required to attend the services with us at the Middleburg church, I never pressure them about deciding to become specifically accountable to the church there, in what we would typically call membership. A couple of the men had been considering identifying themselves with our congregation so we had been looking at the scriptures to determine what “membership” means and what it requires. That study transitioned into obtaining a better understanding of using our gifts from God in His service especially in the local congregation. We studied in detail what the scriptures teach us about our different abilities and having different functions within the body. We all have varying gifts that are crucial to the proper functioning of the body of Christ. I will come back to this in a minute…

Two weeks ago, one of the new men that had recently been released relapsed. I was determined to remove him from the program. Frankly, in the last ten years, we have had little to no success with men after a relapse. I have given most of them a second and sometimes a third chance. I also felt his relapse so soon after release clearly said he hadn’t fully grasped the pain his previous visit to prison had inflicted. Furthermore, I have grown weary of men who have been lavished with blessings because of the support of others, but choose to squander these gifts. I grow tired of babysitting men who do not want to do right.

I met with all the men at the house a few hours after I was told what happened. I already decided he needed to leave. I was prepared to take him to a hotel, a bus station or wherever he wanted to go. Whatever was necessary to get him out of the house. The meeting shocked me. Understand, I have had many such meetings at the transition house with men who had gone back into sin, but this one was different. All the other five men begged me to give him another chance. Their plea was passionate even to the point of tears in several of them. I warned them that none of the other men I gave a second chance to had made it.  They were not swayed.  I warned them that if he relapsed again he may steal from them. They were not swayed. I warned them that he could not be trusted anymore with the ministry vehicles so that meant one of them would have to accompany him wherever he went. They were not swayed. I warned them that he was a possible temptation and risk to their sobriety. They were not swayed. I warned them I would not babysit him.  The responsibility was totally on them.  They were not swayed.

Now back to the studies we were having. Barnabas was not Joseph’s given name. Instead it was a “nickname” given to him by the Apostles. It meant “son of encouragement” – Acts 4:36. He was what we would call today a people person. He obviously had the gift of exhortation or encouragement that is listed with other gifts in Romans 12:4-8. It was Barnabas who first accepted Saul of Tarsus when others were distrustful – Acts 9:26, 27. It was Barnabas who insisted to Paul that John Mark get another chance after he deserted them previously. When Paul would not be persuaded he decided to separate from Paul and take John Mark with him – Acts 15:36-39. Clearly, Barnabas and Paul were different people.  They had different gifts, but were both effective and needed in the body of Christ. I have become more like Paul than Barnabas in the last eleven years of working in the prisons. However, among the men at the house we have several Barnabas’. They see things differently than I do in this situation. They were using their gifts, their perspective, their relationship to persuade me, and like Barnabas, they were willing to carry the risk and burden of their brother to do so.

The church, the body, needs people who are not drones seeing things the same way and making all the same judgments about every situation. Instead, we need each other with our varied gifts to make the body effective. Moreover, we cannot properly exercise our gifts without sacrifice.

Whether the guys at the house end up being correct about this brother or not, they have shown real growth and sacrifice in their service to God. They are learning what their gifts are and what their role is in the body. I am proud of their resolve and the gifts they are honing in their submission to God. Some men are getting it.  Praise be to God!

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and love.


Daryl Townsend