Episode 028: James Fields, A Former State Representative  And Current Pastor Shares Of His Love For The Incarcerated

In this twenty-eighth episode of the Detention to Redemption podcast, I talk to James Fields from Cullman, Alabama. James is a former Alabama State Representative, Kairos prison ministry volunteer and the current pastor at St. James United Methodist Church in Irondale, Alabama. James shares with us his love for the incarcerated and the necessity for criminal justice and prison reform. He has spent many years volunteering inside of prison and has a passion to see men change and embrace Jesus as their Savior. Sadly our prisons chapels are full of changed men and the lack of criminal justice reform won’t allow them another chance. James is a veteran in prison ministry and you will be blessed by this interview!

SHOW NOTES

Kairos Prison Ministry

 

If you have been touched by the music that is shared during this podcast you can buy an album that was written and recorded inside of prison at “Another Captive Free.”

Pray For The Upcoming Family Nights

This Friday night is the first of three family nights for the men inside our Faith Based Honor Dorm. Each man inside the Faith Based honor Dorm is able to invite 2 guests to come and eat dinner with them inside of prison. Many invite their families to come join them which has proven to be a special time for these men.

Join us in prayer as these men and their families have this special time together.  Pray that relationships would be healed, hearts would be softened, lives would be changed, and memories would be made.

Pray For This Weekends Evangelistic Event

This week join me in prayer for an event that is happening this Saturday inside of the prison that I serve at. Servant Riders Ministry will be at the prison and will be grilling food for the inmates as well as giving an evangelistic program. Servant Riders is a biker ministry that goes into prisons with their bikes in order to share the Gospel with those who are incarcerated. Many come out for these events since events like this very seldom happen especially inside of maximum security facilities.

Pray for all those who will be sharing the Gospel with the incarcerated on Saturday through one on one conversation, song, and through the teaching of the Bible. Pray that lives would be changed for eternity!

“The Value of Life”

During World War II, German Nazis imprisoned about 7 to 8 million people, mostly European Jews, in 22 concentration camps. By 1945 they had murdered about 6 million of the inmates. Some were killed by firing squads, others died of starvation or as a result of experiments performed on them by German doctors and scientists, and most died in poison gas chambers.

When Allied forces liberated the camps in 1945, they found them littered with thousands of unburied dead, and the majority of the survivors were suffering from disease or starvation.

Major camps included Dachau, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Natzweiler, Gross-Rosen, Stutthof, Lublin, Hinzert, Bergen-Belsen and, for women, Ravensbrück,

German law at the time legally considered Jews as “not fully human.” They were classified as a “sub-human” species. Legally speaking, they were “non-persons.”

If I went hunting and I saw a bald eagle and shot it, would I be guilty of killing a protected species? Yes. Would the law punish me if I were caught? Yes.

Who decides that I killed a protected species? The government. What makes a bald eagle a protected species? The law. Who makes the laws? Other men. How do we determine that a life has value? Who makes that decision?

The German opinion in 1933 said that Jews were not human. The German government was stronger than the Jews and their opinion prevailed for many years. But it was not right.

Article I of the Constitution of the United States of America stated that African-American’s counted as only three-fifths of a person. This was not repealed until the 14th Amendment in 1865. So, before 1865, could I say that African-American’s were not fully human? Would it be right? No.

Here is the truth: There is only one opinion that matters in relation to you having value…God’s. People who do not believe in God can’t offer any objective reason for saying that they have value as a human being. Everything is subjective – one person’s opinion against another person’s opinion – and the strongest person’s opinion wins. Subjective means I believe something because I “feel” that it is right. It is my own opinion.

However objective means that we are not dealing in opinions or feelings. We are dealing in facts, pure and simple. No-one objects when an animal kills another animal. When a wolf kills a deer, it’s no problem. Without God, we are no different than animals.

The Bible says…

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God created man and breathed the breath of life into him. Man is God’s creation.

Isaiah 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

God saw fit to create man in his own image and likeness. God made us. We did not make God. God is not a human idea! He is a universal truth.

A man once said that God made man in His image, and man has been trying to return the favor ever since! I believe that our biggest mistake is to try to make God like us, instead of us trying to be more like God. There are groups of people who build whole doctrines on the belief that God is like them. God is black or God is white or God is yellow. All for the purpose of making God so like them, and so unlike someone else.

May I tell you that I do not care what color God is? If the Lord God Almighty is black, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is yellow, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! If the Lord God Almighty is purple, then PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!! And if the Lord God Almighty is white, it doesn’t matter to me. I am no more like Him than if He was black, or yellow, or purple. PRAISE THE LORD!!! He is my God!!!

I do not serve a white God. I do not serve a purple God. I serve a LIVING GOD!!! I will serve the Lord with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my mind. My eyes cannot even conceive of His beauty. I cannot imagine. I will not dare to compare myself to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I am content to be called His servant, and blessed to be called one of His sons. That is enough for me.

I believe that man has value to God, because he saw fit to create us. He did not have to, but it pleased Him.

Genesis 1:27-31 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God said that everything He had made was “very good.”

Revelation 4:10-11 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

We were created for His pleasure and to bring glory to Him. There was no second class of people in this creation. He made man and he made woman and he instructed them to multiply. Every man, woman, and child on the earth came from these two people. Every black man, every white man, every red man, every yellow man. The same bloodline. God gave life to us all.

Acts says He “made of one blood all nations.”

Act 17:22-26 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Make no mistake; you are special to God. God did not make any mistakes. Because you have sinned, does not make you any less important to God. He sent His Son to redeem you. His Son died for each of you. If there is anything in your heart that judges another man’s worth, put it out! Do not think any less of your fellow man than God does.

Jesus gave two commandments…

Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I can’t truly say, “I love you” if I look down on you or think you are less than a man. Followers of Christ, love each other, care for each other, think well of each other. Do not separate yourselves for any reason. Each of you is precious to God. He has loved you since before you were born. And since we are precious to God, we should treat each other that way.

We are one people. One bloodline. One family. One body of Christ. Show the world the love of God through the love you have for each other.

Pray For The Muslims During Ramadan

This week join me in prayer for the Muslim men and women that are incarcerated. They are currently in their annual Ramadan fast which happens on the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. Lasting for the entire month, it is a time of worship and contemplation where Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran.

Because of this heightened spiritual expectation, God can move in unexpected ways in their hearts. That’s why it’s important to offer prayer support during this time. Pray that God would pour out His spirit on Muslims during their holy month while they are focused on spiritual awareness and seeking supernatural experiences. Pray that the hearts of the Muslims would turn to the one true God and that they would repent and begin living lives that are focused on God! Also ask God how He wants you to pray for Muslims and what more He wants you to do.

Time Alone With God

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Time alone with God is very important for the Christian. Every day we as Christians are faced with difficulties. Things in which we cannot approach by ourselves. Things in which will defeat us unless we are walking in the strength of our Father in heaven. Have we prepared ourselves? Have we spent time alone with God? Our excuses are often “But we don’t have enough time,” “I am just so busy” and “I will make time tomorrow” in which we know will never happen. Just our short “help me God” prayers are not what I am talking about. I am talking about withdrawing from our busy schedule and spending time by yourself with God. Time on your knees pleading for your family, your life, your neighbors and the unsaved in this world.

In Luke 5:16 it says that our Lord Jesus would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Why? What was the reason Jesus the Son of God needed to withdraw and pray? And by the way, wasn’t He also God himself? Jesus realized the importance of communication with the Father. You see the reason we so often stumble through our days is because we fail to communicate with our Father. The Father is our strength! We will never be able to bear the fruit that our Father desires if we forget the source of our strength. He never gives us more then we can handle but He desires for us to seek Him for our strength. He doesn’t want you to stumble through your day! He wants you to bear fruit, so all that you do and all the victories that you have may bring Him glory. Friends it is out of relationship, not routine life, that we are able to do the works of Him who sent us. Wouldn’t you rather spend alone time with God daily then to stumble through your day?

Pray For Our Nations Prison System

This week as you pray, I would like to point out some jarring facts and statistics about our prison system. Our prison system is in dire need of a fundamental transformation, maybe even more than most realize. So please use these facts and statistics as you pray for the prisons in our Nation this week.

One news source has reported: “Today, like any other day, there are around 2.4 million people incarcerated in America’s federal, state and local prisons and jails. Together, the nation’s inmates would constitute the fourth biggest city in the United States, knocking Houston down a notch. Expand that grouping to everyone under correctional control, including probation and parole, and you’d have a metropolis of nearly 7 million, second only to New York. Finally, reunite the number of people that see the inside of a jail cell in a given year, and you’d have a prison city with a population as big as New York and Los Angeles combined (11.6 million).”

Also when you stack these numbers globally, the U.S. has the largest incarceration system in the world.  It has one-fourth of the world’s prisoner population despite having only 5% of its entire population.

According to Vera Institute of Justice’s 2012 “Price of Prisons” report and 2012 U.S. Census   data on public school costs, shows that prisons cost us five times more than educating students in most states. Research also shows that over two thirds of people who leave prison will return and that in 17 states, prisons are filled beyond capacity.

We desperately need prison reform but even more then that we as Christians need to step up and become intentional in reaching those that are incarcerated. Please join me in praying for our Nations prison system this week!

Wasted Time

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This week I am posting a poem that has been around awhile and was written by an inmate. This poem doesn’t originate from anyone that I know, but most behind bars can identify with it.

The time that I’ve wasted is my biggest regret,

Spent in these places I will never forget.

Just sitting and thinking about the things that I’ve done,

The crying, the laughing, the hurt and the fun.

Now it’s me and my hard driven guilt

Behind a wall of emptiness I allowed to be built.

I’m trapped in my body, just wanting to run

Back to my youth with its laughter and fun.

But the chase is over and there’s no place to hide

Everything is gone, including my pride.

With reality suddenly right in my face

I’m scared, alone and stuck in this place.

Now memories of the past flash through my head

And the pain is obvious by the tears that I shed.

I ask myself why and where I went wrong.

I guess I was weak when I should have been strong.

Living for the drugs and the wings I had grown,

My feelings were lost, afraid to be shown.

As I look at my past it’s so easy to see.

The fear that I had, afraid to be me.

I pretend to be rugged, so fast and so cool

When actually lost like a blinded old fool.

I’m getting too old for this tiresome game

Of acting real hard with no sense of shame.

It’s time that I change and get on with my life,

Fulfilling my dreams for a family and wife.

What my future will hold I really don’t know,

But the years that I’ve wasted are starting to show.

I just live for the day when I’ll get a new start

And the dreams I still hold deep in my heart.

I hope I can make it; I at least have to try,

Because I’m headed toward death and I don’t want to die.

 

I encourage men to not look at their incarceration as wasted time, telling them that instead this should be a learning time. A time in which God is using to mold and shape real men of God. Though many would agree with me, the words in this poem still reflect how many of the incarcerated feel! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what brings hope to all those who are incarcerated and we as Christians need to go behind the bars of prison to share this Good News!

Episode 027: Rick Duncan, A Son’s Account Of Finding Happiness During His Father’s Incarceration

In this twenty-seventh episode of the Detention to Redemption podcast, I talk to Rick Duncan from Milan, Michigan. Rick is an author, prison volunteer, speaker and blogger. He shares with us how his family was impacted by incarceration and how that experience changed his life forever. He shares of the hurt he felt and that through his blog, and his book, his journey came full circle of losing happiness and then finding it again. Rick shares with us also about the many different ways that he now volunteers inside of prison and how God has used his experience to reach so many others. His testimony and vulnerability blessed me as we talked and I believe you too will be blessed by it!

Make sure you purchase his book “Opening Happiness” in it he writes: “There’s no living without joy. When I was twenty-four, my joy was stolen. It was a dark time. I remember the deep pain inside, an infinite ache that tore out the very core of my soul…” This book is about the journey of losing happiness and then finding it again. Rick believed that if he could only open a moment of happiness, he would find the answer to his longing and relief from his suffering. When that moment was found, it was not where he expected. You can purchase it by clicking on the below link.

SHOW NOTES

Blog: Opening Happiness

Book: Opening Happiness

Prison Fellowship

Children’s Literacy Network

 

One Day With God Forgiveness Ministry

If you have been touched by the music that is shared during this podcast you can buy an album that was written and recorded inside of prison at “Another Captive Free.”

Pray For Protection

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121

Let’s pray this week for the protection of the men at St. Clair Correctional Facility. Pray that their eyes would be lifted up to the Lord and that their hearts would be poured out to Him. Pray that they would rest in the fact that their help comes from the Lord and not from themselves. Pray that they would resist the snares of the evil one, Satan and shun drugs and other types of contraband that get into prison. Pray that they would be safe from sexual assault and other forms of victimization and be healthy and free from serious illness. Ultimately pray that their lives would be surrendered to the Lord and by His hand transformed into His likeness!