Executive Chaplain’s Corner

You are impacting Oklahoma jails today

“As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (New International Version 1984, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Everywhere you look this summer there are reports of the breakdown of the state of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.  From newspapers, television stations and the Internet there are stories of the critical problems with our courts, jails and state prisons.

Rarely, there is the mention of small steps to address the issues of substance abuse, mental health, sentencing reform, bail scheduling, children left in the care of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and dilapidated facilities.

Amongst the many news accounts of issues with Oklahoma’s criminal justice system there are reforms that are called for, legislative measures that are passed and state questions that are voted for, but the system keeps getting worse.

These efforts are needed, but they take time and a lot of money.  The report alone that detailed many of the issues cost the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce $250,000.  That is close to the yearly budget of our Oklahoma Jail & Prison Ministries (OJPM).

In contrast, for pennies on the dollar you insure that OJPM staff and volunteers minister to an average of 1,500 inmates each month.  Of these, approximately 200 make a commitment to follow Christ.

In each article, the hope is stated that reform and change can happen soon.  I pray for these changes, but I live for the hope of transformation today.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the hope that “now is the day of Salvation.”  Today, you are touching the lives of inmates through OJPM.  Some of you are volunteer chaplains; some of you are prayer warriors; and some of you are financial supporters.  All of you are part of the OJPM family.  All of you are impacting Oklahoma jails today!

Today, OJPM has two full-time and seven part-time chaplains along with approximately 100 volunteers who meet face-to-face with male and female inmates each week.  As a part of the OJPM family, you partner with them to share the gospel, listen to inmate concerns, pass out Bibles and Bible studies and pray with the inmates.  OJPM brings peace and calm to the pods in the seven county jails where our chaplains minister.

Oklahoma County Interim Sheriff P. D. Taylor is quick to point out the calm, order and comfort that OJPM chaplains bring to the challenging situations at the Oklahoma County jail.  Just as a few disgruntled and agitated inmates can stir up an entire pod, the same pod can be calmed down with a few peaceful and content inmates attempting to walk the talk of their new-found or recommitted faith.

The issues are many that create the problems in our courts, jails and prisons.  OJPM focuses on the foundational issues of personal sin and the breakdown of the family.  Your chaplains address these issues each and every day as they minister to inmates.

Attention needs to be given to reforming our criminal justice system.  Keep that in your prayers.  In the meantime, remember, you are making a difference today inside our county jails through OJPM.

Unleashing the captives,

Tim Gentry
Executive Chaplain

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