Going after the lost sheep
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (New International Version 1984, Luke 15:3-7).
My wife, Mary, and I attended church in Ada with my mother for Easter. On the way down and back I noticed several pastures with sheep. Mary and I immediately recalled the little lamb that she got to hold a few years ago and how precious it was (see picture).
It is no wonder Jesus used the picture of a lost sheep to emphasize His love for the lost and our responsibility to go after the lost sheep until we find him or her. For OJPM, Jesus has challenged us to leave the open country and go after the lost sheep in county jails.
I have shared the first part of OJPM’s vision statement before. “We envision a ministry providing passionate, trained chaplains and volunteers to every county jail in Oklahoma.”
The second part of that vision statement is, “We envision chaplains and volunteers sharing the gospel with inmates and challenging them to turn from their self-destructive ways and to follow Jesus Christ as Lord.” This is why we want to bring our ministry to every county jail in Oklahoma; so that the gospel can be shared with every lost sheep.
Just as Christ challenged the people in the parable of the lost sheep to “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep,” I want you to rejoice with the Lord over the opening of OJPM ministry in the Logan County jail.
Sheriff Damon Devereaux and the Logan County officials have approved a memorandum of understanding with OJPM and Lincoln Kosa has been selected to be our OJPM site chaplain for the Logan County jail. Kosa and new site chaplains Kevin Martin from Lincoln County and Jesse West from Bryan County all were introduced and gave their testimonies at our recent spring training mentioned in last month’s newsletter.
You can also rejoice with the Lord over each man and woman represented in the reports on the back page of this newsletter. Those reports show the far country that our chaplains and volunteers go to in search of the lost sheep. Those reports also show how many of these lost sheep are being found!
One more item that you can rejoice about is our upcoming spring luncheon on Tuesday, May 8th (see box for more details). Tom and Kay Hill will be honored with our Spirit Award and Argyl and Janel Dick will be honored with our Sower Award. I hope that if you are able you will choose to attend this special time of recognition for two couples who have been so instrumental in going after the lost sheep!
Unleashing the captives,
Spring training is a bucket list item
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (New International Version 1984, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
No, not the spring training that baseball teams attend in Florida or Arizona, but the spring training we completed last Saturday in Moore, Oklahoma.
For you readers who were there, you will rejoice with me over this review. For you that were not able to attend or are not required to attend, you will rejoice with the Lord in all that He is doing through OJPM.
Here is the line-up card that I went with on Saturday.
Leading off was Board President and Cleveland County jail Site Chaplain Bill Farley. Bill was quick to get on base with updates for our spring luncheon on Tuesday, May 8th at the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club where we will honor Argyl Dick with our Sower Award and Tom and Kay Hill with our Spirit Award.
In the number two spot Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Chaplain Don Duncan advanced Farley with an update on conditions at the Oklahoma County jail. Duncan credited Sheriff P. D. Taylor for the changes he has instituted at the jail, but reminded the team that there are still great challenges. He specifically reminded the volunteers of the importance of following the security procedures.
OJPM Senior Chaplain Jorge Vara was in the three hole. With 29 years of service, no one knows the ins and outs of jail ministry like Vara. He handles the core of all our training and covered foundational principles of jail ministry, procedures and regulations, understanding the inmate, qualifications for counseling and guidelines.
Muskogee County jail Associate Chaplain Greg Fields batted cleanup. He cleared the bases with a powerful message on the biblical principle of reconciliation. Using 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 as his text, Fields challenged us that the basis of our reconciliation with God through Christ is the hope we share with others.
In the heart of the order we heard from our three new site chaplains. Kevin Martin, site chaplain for our new work in Lincoln County shared how his church’s heart for jail ministry opened up the doors for working with OJPM and Sheriff Charlie Dougherty.
From Bryan County, Site Chaplain Jessie West, shared how his hospital chaplaincy ministry opened a relationship with new Sheriff Johnny Christian and OJPM to restart jail ministry there.
Logan County jail Site Chaplain Lincoln Kosa shared how the Lord delivered him from years of abuse and jail time. Through his relationship with new Sheriff Damon Devereaux and support from OJPM, Kosa is excited about challenging others with the reconciliatory power he has experienced through Jesus Christ.
You could say that I was at the bottom of the order or you could say that I was the designated hitter. Either way, I trust I delivered by challenging our chaplains with the importance of prayer. My three points from Jeremiah 33:3 were:
Understanding the access God has provided to us . . . we must take advantage of the opportunity
Understanding the availability God has made for us . . . we must give attention to Him
Understanding the desire God has expressed to us . . . we must respond in commitment
It was a beautiful spring day for training. The season ahead is full of promise and opportunity.
Unleashing the captives,
OJPM vision moving forward
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (New International Version 1984, Matthew 28:19–20).
OJPM’s mission statement (Transforming people on both sides of the bars) is what Jesus’ Great Commission looks like personalized for our ministry.
OJPM’s vision statement (First portion – We envision a ministry providing passionate, trained chaplains and volunteers to every county jail in Oklahoma) is what our mission statement looks like as God brings it to life.
This past month, we had two new ministry sites come online. The Bryan County jail with Site Chaplain Jesse West and the Lincoln County jail with Site Chaplain Kevin Martin.
We now have ministry reaching inmates in eight Oklahoma counties (we are at two facilities in Oklahoma county) with only 69 counties to go. If you noticed that we ended 2017 with a financial surplus, rest assured that we are planning expanded ministry that will put that money and more to kingdom use.
Chaplain West is a local Bryan County pastor and has several years of hospital chaplaincy experience. He reported in January, “there were several precious souls added to the Kingdom along with the addition of six new volunteers. One lady is with Celebrate Recovery and the other three ladies are with the Gideon’s auxiliary. Two men who are with Celebrate Recovery are currently awaiting approval before restarting their ministry.”
Chaplain Martin is a local Lincoln County pastor whose church has been involved with the jail for several years. He recently reported, “in the past few weeks God has done great things in the jail house ministry. We have seven volunteers at this time. In the past two weeks seven inmates have asked Christ into their life. I was able to meet personally with one inmate and he rededicated his life to the Lord. God is giving us favor in the jail house.”
Last week I met with a prospective site chaplain and county sheriff who verbally committed to endorsing our ministry. Hopefully, I will be able to announce the beginning of our ministry in that jail in next month’s newsletter. This morning I had a phone call from a gentleman who read last month’s column about our vision to have a ministry in every county jail in Oklahoma. God has laid jail ministry on his heart and he wants to be involved in bringing OJPM into his local county jail.
The Lord is at work. The Lord has given us our commission. Join in with OJPM to bring a Christian witness to every county jail in Oklahoma through your prayers, volunteering and giving.
His vision is moving forward!
Unleashing the captives,
2017 was a year of transformation for OJPM
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (New International Version 1984, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
God is in the transformation business! OJPM staff and volunteers walk side-by-side (empowered by the Holy Spirit) with God each day in now nine county jail facilities.
OJPM chaplains (I use this term interchangeably with our staff and volunteers) move so far out of their comfort zones to serve the Lord that they cannot help but be personally transformed themselves. They also are the hands, feet and voices used by the Lord to bring the transformative message of the gospel to the men and women incarcerated in our county jails.
The Lord worked through many of you in 2017 to transform our financial support. Because of the new giving and extra giving by our extended ministry friends and family, we were able to meet the Open Hearts, Open Doors JASCO Giving Hope Foundation Matching Gift Campaign goal of $100,000 (see box on back page). This generosity has put our ministry on firmer financial footing and will allow us to expand our impact in 2018.
Looking forward to the new year in 2018 our board of directors has approved the following mission statement, vision statement and strategic initiatives.
Mission statement – Transforming people on both sides of the bars.
Vision statement – We envision a ministry providing passionate, trained chaplains and volunteers to every county jail in Oklahoma.
We envision chaplains and volunteers sharing the gospel with inmates and challenging them to turn from their self-destructive ways and to follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
We envision chaplains and volunteers praying with, encouraging and giving Bibles and Bible study materials to inmates.
We envision chaplains and volunteers being the answer to the prayers of countless mothers, fathers, children and grandparents that are asking God to send someone to intervene in their loved one’s life.
We envision transformed inmates who are reconciled with the Lord, their loved ones, their victims and their community.
We envision transformed volunteers who no longer just sit in a pew at their local church, but have discovered how God can use them as they step out of their comfort zone.
- Enlist and train site chaplains and volunteers with introductory, maturing and advanced training in prayer, personal soul-winning, spiritual discernment, personal growth, jail security, fundraising and record keeping
- Contact and enlist sheriffs and jail administrators in every county in Oklahoma to partner with OJPM to provide a site chaplain and volunteer in their county jail
- Develop OJPM website as key resource for promotion, training and fundraising
- Strengthen fundraising efforts to sustain ministry operations
This is where God is going with His transformative power. This is where OJPM is going along with the Lord. Please join us for this transformative journey in 2018 with your prayers, personal involvement and financial support.
Unleashing the captives,