In July of 2012, my wife and I moved back to Norman to settle into semi-retirement. My primary desire was that OJPM would be able to setup a volunteer ministry at the Cleveland County jail, which had opened a new facility in 2011. It took lots of prayer and some divine intervention, but in December of 2014, the late Joe Williams and I had navigated the waters with the Cleveland County jail administrator to open up Cleveland County. This began a great program that has up to 10 volunteers going in 5 days each week – Praise GOD! Thanks to wonderful leadership in Larry Heikkila and incredible volunteers, Cleveland County is one of OJPM’s most vibrant ministries.
Out for a walk one day by chance (there are no coincidences), I met and began a visit with a former OU wrestler who spent his entire career in the DOC chaplain’s department, mostly at the prison in McAlester. Pastor Frank Marks was a First Baptist Church, Norman, Oklahoma, Sunday school leader and already past 80 years at the time. He invited me to join him at Griffin Hospital each week, as he had been volunteering for 20 plus years at that point. Reluctantly, I joined Chaplain Frank as he kept explaining to me that he would not be able to go on forever.
So, from 2012 – 2015, I joined Pastor Frank weekly at Griffin Hospital. He was such a story teller and enjoyed having me by his side to pray and hand out resources to the patients. In 2015, his health took a downturn and as I finished praying for him one morning at a rehab hospital in Norman, he explained to me that his time on earth was nearing its end – that it would sure mean a lot to him if I would serve like him and continue my weekly chaplain role at both Griffin and Red Rock Rehabilitation, another wing inside of Griffin.
I was happy to oblige and think of Chaplain Frank often and still share memories of him with the workers who remember him so fondly. Who knows, perhaps I will make 20 plus years there as well one day and turn it over to whomever the Lord might bring along the way. It has been a real joy and privilege to serve! I thank Joe Williams and now Executive Chaplain Tim Gentry for allowing me to represent OJPM in such a worthy ministry.
OJPM Development Director Bill Farley is shown with Donna and Carrie, recovery coordinators from Griffin Hospital, accepting the 2019-20 Good Samaritan Award for Griffin Hospital.