As OJPM chaplains, we head to our various ministry posts each week knowing that the Holy Spirit will be with us as we share the gospel message with those sitting before us. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). I like to say that most of the time, we show up and see God move as we get to watch and share.
While pastors are speakers, we as chaplains are listeners. We listen to each story then weave in responses, along with God’s Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit. On a recent Tuesday at Cleveland County jail, I had a 24-year-old inmate come in; a four year undercover heroin addict.
Michael had been praying the night before that he would get a chance to see a chaplain, when low and behold his opportunity came. Michael has six-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and he was overwhelmed in finding a way to get out of his terribly addicted life. Through discussion, prayer and a sea of tears, Michael asked Jesus to come into his heart, forgive him for his transgressions, heal his addictions and that he would follow Him the rest of his life.
That same evening, I was reminded of a non-contact visit (behind glass) I had promised a man at my church. The new year had gotten so busy and I had just forgotten about this young man. I called on him and as I looked back over my shoulder I could tell it was very busy in the main visitation hall.
It was 6:00 P.M. when I wrapped up and by then the main foyer was totally quiet. While leaving I noticed there was only one person in the room, a woman who looked pretty anxious. I stepped over, introduced myself, and asked her if there was anything I could pray for her about.
She politely said, “Why yes, pray for my son, he is here in jail.” I asked her what her son’s name was, and she said, “Michael.” The name Michael resonated with me for some reason and I opened my Bible to my prayer book where I keep prayer requests of each inmate I see.
I asked her, “Ma’am, is your son 24 years old?” She said, “Yes sir.” I asked, “If he was a severe heroin addict?” Again, she said, “Yes.” I asked, “If he had twins who were six years old?” She said, “Why, yes he does.”
As she indicated there was no hope for him, that he was as low as he could ever get in his life, I was able to let her know, that her son asked Jesus to come into his heart on that very morning.
Oh my, the tears that filled that foyer were incredible. She thanked me over and over and told me she was about to speak to him on the jail’s video monitoring system. I can only imagine the tears from both that ensued in their visit.
What a joyous prayer we shared with each other!
As I also like to say, “You can’t make this stuff up.” I am so very proud to be a member of the OJPM chaplain team.
Monday, February 5, 2018 Sister Gina, OJPM President Bill Farley, Executive Chaplain Tim Gentry joined with OU Softball Assistant Coach Jimmy Gasso, Softball Players Kelsey Arnold and Melanie Olmos to encourage the residents.
Hello, my name is Jesse West and I am the new site coordinator for Bryan County jail here in Durant, Oklahoma. God has opened this door just like He has so many times in my life, especially in these last five years. When I was praying about God’s will for my life concerning the pastorate here at Westside Baptist, I came across a verse that God used it to speak to me. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (King James Version, 1 Corinthians 16:9).
Being able to minister to anyone regardless of what side of the bars they are on is a tremendous blessing. Just to think that God would allow people like us to serve Him causes me still to be in awe. We serve a wonderful and amazing God! Since coming here, He has opened the door for me to volunteer at our local hospital as a chaplain, for almost five years.
Through hospital chaplaincy ministry, while visiting with a patient, I was able to meet Sheriff Johnny Christian who at the time was running for election. He expressed a desire to keep in contact once the election was over, not knowing at the time that he wanted to speak with me concerning being their chaplain for the deputies, confinement officers, along with all of the other
God has given the sheriff and me a great working relationship. He is a man of integrity, honesty and respect along with humility. Now God has once again opened this “great door” of jail ministry through the relationship with the sheriff and OJPM. Sheriff Christian is excited about OJPM because of the safety and training policies that are already in place, just to mention a few.
I am excited about what God is going to do here in Bryan County. We have already seen five women and a couple of men make a decision for Christ. Please continue to pray for the ministry here.
“‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (New International Version 1984, Matthew 25:35-40).
I am always glad, when I read this passage, that I am a part of the jail ministry. Bro. Clarence Harmon is a longtime member and soul winner of our church and has been involved in the Oklahoma Jail & Prison Ministries. In 2000 Bro. Harmon called me and asked if I would be willing to be an “as needed volunteer” at the county jail. He said they needed women that were willing to visit with residents that wanted to talk about spiritual matters. I thought “NO!”… but my mouth said, “Yes.” I went to the jail for a tour and seeing the men and women peering out of their cells touched my heart. I saw people that needed hope, deliverance, and that needed to know that God is real and that He loves them just as they are. I think often, what if it was me in jail. I would want someone to share hope with me. My “as needed volunteer” turned into every week for almost 17 years.
As I sat and talked to these women I wanted so badly to see them have what I have. I wanted them to experience salvation, and the peace and blessings of God. I wanted them to get deliverance from self- destruction and bad relationships. I wanted them to be a part of a church family, protected from the lives that led them to jail. I would leave with a heavy burden, wanting to take them home with me and see that they never went back to the old life. Many would tell me they did not want to leave because they were protected and safe from their old life.
I began contemplating opening a safe house for them and prayed about it. God seemed to slap me up-side the face one day and He said to my heart, “Anita, you are not the answer I am, just lead them to me and I will change their life, and deliver them, and be real to them.” It was a huge burdened lifted off my heart. I said, “I can do that! I can point them to Jesus! Jesus you are the answer, not me!” That is what I try to do with each lady I talk to, point them to Jesus.