Oklahoma County Juvenile
Chaplain Daniel and Rachel Lowery
Kala Cerenity Lowery
November 19, 2015
At 12:39 p.m., weight 9lbs 11oz
After thirty years as a meth addict and alcohol abuser, numerous times in jail, three times in prison and on a fast train to hell, I had a stroke. On a gurney to the ambulance, I looked up to the sky and said, “I hear you now, God.”
That was almost three years ago and I knew it was do or die. I walked away from everything and everyone I knew and put my faith in Jesus Christ. A friend set me up with a job and a place to live in another town. I started going to church and I started seeking God more and more.
It is amazing. The more I seek God, the more I find Him. He is really working in my life. I still have battles every day, but now I am in the Lord’s army. I find myself changing in many different ways.
God has given me freedom from the lingering sadness of a childhood filled with loss of a mother and abuse from a father, from scars and anger toward an abusive spouse, hurts of homelessness and failed relationships and the ultimate agony of seeing my grown daughter being sentenced to 25 years in prison because of addiction related mistakes.
I volunteer twice a week at the Cleveland County Jail through the ministry of the Oklahoma Jail & Prison Ministries organization. I love it! I feel the women can really relate to me and I can relate to them. Meth is a demon and it is taking a lot of people. I know how helpless it makes you feel. I feel the Lord wants me to reach people and I am trying to be obedient to Him. I feel the need to let them know that with God you can live a different life.
I feel there is more I can do now. I am searching for my next step in serving the Lord and I challenge you to do the same. I am so grateful and blessed.
In April 2009 I was finishing a Bible study at my home church, Henderson Hills Baptist and I asked those in the class to pray that God would lead me to a new ministry. I had been involved in pastoral care the previous six years, and all of a sudden I looked up and each of the people I had been calling on had moved on to be with the Lord.
In just a couple of days I received an email from my dear friend and fellow OJPM board member George Rennix asking if I would meet him for breakfast. We met and George began to speak passionately about a love of his life that he had been involved with over the past thirty years. He introduced me to OJPM and within a month I was up on the sixth floor of the Oklahoma County Jail sitting next to Senior Chaplain Jorge Vara.
During this time I met Executive Chaplain Argyl Dick, Jorge and a host of other volunteer chaplains that I would counsel with each Tuesday morning. I was passionate and convicted as I watched the power of the Holy Spirit show up time after time, week in and week out. Will Murchison, Orrie Flynt, Ed Shank, Billy Lewis, Bruce Conley and Allen Threatt are a few of my fellow chaplains who mentored me each week.
In February 2010 I was approached with a “Macedonian call” to lead a crusade inside a prison in southwest Mexico. I rounded up a team and in the summer of 2010 we went inside the largest prison in Guerrero. What happened during those six days is something I will never forget, as 390 inmates accepted our invitation to bring our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ into their lives.
By then Don Duncan was leading OJPM and we met one day and I shared my mission story with him and Joe Williams. They were jubilant with the news and encouraged me to continue going back while growing the ministry under OJPM. I did this and over the next three years made seven total trips to this prison and others, including meeting with the state government to open more doors for future volunteers.
In 2011 I was asked by Joe and Don to serve on the board of directors of OJPM and I was delighted to do so, gaining more and more insight into the growth and success of this amazing ministry. In short, I have absolutely cherished my time with OJPM and have tried to “answer every phone call along the way.” I currently serve weekly as a volunteer chaplain under Bob Schobert at the Cleveland County Jail while making roving chaplain calls to Griffin Mental Hospital, the VA facility in Norman, as well as the prisons in Lexington.
In February of this year I was invited to lunch one day by Joe Williams who explained to me that after 15 years he was going to step down as the president of our board of directors. Over the years I had gotten to know Joe well and consider him one of the finest mentors I have ever had in my career. During this luncheon he mentioned to me that he was going to recommend to the Board at our next meeting that they consider me to be the next president.
As I prayed about this I realized I had already worked with Executive Chaplain Tim Gentry for a few months at the main OJPM office and saw a dynamic leader who would be passionate about our future. I was honored to have been nominated and voted in as president and vow my undying loyalty to a ministry that has given me more peace, joy and excitement than any earthly endeavor anyone could ever imagine.
There is work to be done and I realize that. But, because of the powerful calling to serve our great King, Jesus Christ; our volunteers, our working staff, our board members and all of those who co labor alongside us with financial support, the future of OJPM is every bit as exciting as our successful past.
Yours for Kingdom work,
Recently, we received a phone call from Chaplain Tim asking us to share our testimony and involvement with OJPM. He asked us to include the following:
1. How Olivia and I turned to Christ? Briefly – in 1994, the Lord had allowed me to reach the bottom. I had lost my health, my job, my wife and almost my daughter. In total despair, I responded to an invitation to visit Banning Foursquare Church in Banning, Calif. As I walked into the church on Easter Sunday, 1994, at age 47, the Spirit of God struck me and forever changed me. After hearing the preaching and reading my Bible, I soon realized that I belonged to Christ, and was determined to tell the truth to as many people as I possibly could and to try to live a life worthy of Him. (Romans 5:8)
Olivia’s conversion was different. Even though, at 27, she was living “the good life” with a husband, children, and a job she liked, the void in her life was exposed at her first Bible study. She was changed by John 3:16, and her immediate response was, “Why did nobody ever tell me this before?”
2. How did we get interested in jail ministry? (Matthew 25:40) After spending 20 years working in corrections (Larry) and social work (Olivia), we found jail ministry to be a perfect fit. I began in 2000 through the Gideon’s International in California. Olivia began here in 2008 when we moved to Oklahoma. We were recommended to the OJPM chaplain by the chaplain of the truck stop ministry we worked at in Kansas. Our paperwork cleared in two and a half weeks, so the Lord knew we were ready to go.
3. What do we find most fulfilling? (Romans 3:4) In a world built on a foundation of lies, we thank God for placing us in a ministry that encourages us to share the truth with men and women, many who are ready to hear it and turn to the only source of goodness, love, peace and purpose, Jesus. When we see the eyes of an inmate clear and face light up showing they really understand and embrace the love of God, we have received our payment in full for our labor in Christ.
4. Training? (2 Timothy 2:1-4) Three to four hours is a long time to sit and listen to instruction. But it is easy to forget the rules and we need to be reminded. Further, it is a joy to be lifted up by God’s word and good to be reminded who we serve and why. I told Tim that I appreciated his description of evangelizing by matching a person’s situation to Bible stories at our spring training. I knew this intuitively and have since identified over twenty Bible stories to share.
5. Opportunities to support the ministry through a trust? (Galatians 5:1) When my parents died, they put me as the trustee of their trust. I was so thankful for that because it minimized disagreements and dispersed money and belongings in weeks rather than years. At a training session in 2012, Brad Bertand, also a volunteer for OJPM, offered to do a trust for free if the person would designate at least five percent of the assets to OJPM. After initial reluctance, Olivia convinced me to set up an appointment to visit with him and I am so glad I did. Brad now manages our retirement amounts as well as having set up our trust. For me, a money manager must put Jesus first and know what he is doing with your money. Brad does both! And, this is a wonderful way to serve the Lord after you are in Heaven, leaving a Christian legacy.
In Christ’s service,
Larry and Oliva Holm
Ed Cash’s call to participate in OJPM’s Muskogee County Jail volunteer chaplaincy came a little over a year ago at the Muskogee Baptist Association’s annual meeting. “A woman got up and started talking about jail ministry and I understood that even though she was talking about women I knew there were men to be ministered to,” Cash said. Cash had felt the Holy Spirit moving him that direction for some time. He said, “I can’t read Matthew 25:43 without the Holy Spirit dealing with me, bringing conviction on my heart. I had felt this for several years but had not mentioned it to anyone because of fear.”
As God usually does, He was laying this same burden upon his wife, Donna’s heart. Donna said, “When I heard the woman give her testimony about jail ministry I felt the Lord telling me I needed to do this.” Donna talked with the woman after the meeting and was told they didn’t need any volunteers at that time but that they needed finances. You can imagine that Donna walked away confused and feeling it was her selfish desire and not God’s will for her to be a part of a jail ministry.
As time passed Donna kept feeling the need to be an active participant in helping incarcerated women. The conviction was very strong to the point that she found herself in tears as she finally talked to Ed about her call. She was amazed when Ed told her that he too had felt the Lord’s calling for years and that he too wanted to minister in jail.
Ed and Donna decided to talk to their pastor who affirmed that God was calling them to be chaplains. The Cash’s pastor encouraged them to check with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) and see what training they had for chaplaincy.
Chaplaincy was not even a part of Donna’s thought process believing that women were not considered for that kind of position. Ed and Donna prayed about and discussed over and over this possibility until Donna called the BGCO and was told that the training in question was for Disaster Relief Chaplaincy.
Hesitant at first, thinking this was not where they felt led, they eventually agreed after more counseling with their pas-tor that this was the door God had opened and that they need-ed to pursue it. Donna said, “It was the only thing open at the time and it might lead to other open doors later.” Sure enough, in one of the classes they were told that upon completion of the training they needed to pursue a chaplaincy position in a hospital, jail, prison, casino, or any place that might need their services.
This was the proof they needed that they had indeed followed God’s desire. This training prepared them to go into OJPM. Ed and Donna said, “From the first class we have known this is what God wants in our lives. We are anxious as this is new to us, but we know God has been in this from the start and He knows our future better than we do.”