As an 18 year old I walked into a prison for my first time, I remember it as it was yesterday. I didn’t enter prison that day as a violator of the law but rather as a young man who was desperately seeking God’s will and plan for his life. It was a three hour drive from my home in Ohio and I still remember how my nerves had me shaking by the time I got there. I remember as I walked through the doors and heard them clank behind me I wondered what I had gotten myself into. It was there in that chapel service that night where I first felt a love for the incarcerated. It was there in that chapel service where I began discovering the plan God had for me. That night changed my life and the next 8 years I spent a lot of time in prisons teaching classes, doing evangelistic services and facilitating bible studies. During these years God continued to build a greater love in my heart for those who are incarcerated and confirm in me His calling for my life.
In February 2010 after being married for 4 years and having started a family, my beautiful wife and I came to a point in our lives where we strongly felt God leading us into full time prison ministry. In fact it all came to a head one night after I came home from work. It had been a long day of wrestling between my desires and what God was asking me to do. It was a battle between my desire of security and trust and faith in God. It was a battle that changed my life. That night me and my family stepped out and begun the next chapter of our lives. It wasn’t easy but it meant leaving our family and everything that we had grown accustomed to in Ohio and fourteen month later move to Birmingham Alabama.
It has been 5 years ago this week since we made this move. We moved in order for me to serve as an assistant chaplain inside a correctional facility near Birmingham Alabama. The move wasn’t easy but it was a step we had to take. Many others have made moves like this, some have even moved into other countries. In fact our move was quite easy most would think. We stayed within a 12 hour drive from home, we moved to a place where we can have the same comforts as we had back in Ohio. All of that is true and we have been blessed here in Alabama but these 5 years have been challenging. These 5 years have helped shape us and grow us into who we are today and it continues do so as time goes on. We don’t regret these last 5 years rather we are extremely grateful for them.
These last 5 years I have seen lives changed, addictions broken and the church arise with force behind the bars of prison. These last 5 years I have experienced God’s ever abiding presence and His love for the lost. These last 5 years I have grown in trust and experienced God’s faithfulness. Through these years I have been blessed by the body of Christ and have met and begun many new relationships. God has blessed us and He will continue to bless us! As I prepare for the years ahead of me and the continuation of serving in prison ministry, I am excited to see more lives changed for the glory of God. Thank you for all those of you who come along side of us, blessing us with an encouraging word, your prayers and financial gifts. I pray that through the partnership of friends like you we can have an even greater impact on the lives of the incarcerated in the years to come. Thank you and to God be the glory!
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