As I began to take on an interim role as chaplain at the Canadian County jail on March 1, 2019, I quickly realized this was not going to be a cakewalk assignment. The Canadian County jail is a crowded facility with not much space to operate. The preferred “one-on-one” OJPM inmate method was difficult from day one due to lack of allocated space.
In the four months going there, I would say only once have consecutive weeks been the same. One week I would meet with three to four inmates at a time in a room near a detention officer’s desk. The next week I would actually get “one-on-one space” in the back of the jail. However, through it all the staff at Canadian County has been a dedicated, hard-working team and does what it takes to help in any way possible.
I also found out that God will always have His way, even when things look desperate for the chaplain. On Wednesday, June 26th, I arrived at my appointed time not knowing what to expect. Officer Grove, program director, brought me through the hallway and we went to two pods and picked up five offenders who wanted to visit. As we were walking through the hallways headed to the visiting area, we ran into Major Moore, who exclaimed both the visiting and multipurpose room were being used by DHS and a rehab assessment team.
After some discussion on what to do, through the door one of the inmates shouted; hey Major, “where two or three or more are gathered, I am in your midst” (Matt. 18:20), we can sit on the floor in the hallway while you guys get Chaplain Bill a chair. He agreed and that is exactly what we did.
It was a very busy hallway and there were six to seven women and an officer just a few feet down the hallway. Low and behold, as I began to speak the hallway got silent and I noticed that everyone was listening, not a word was being said and there was total silence in an otherwise busy hallway.
After speaking back and forth and listening to the men’s input, about 50 minutes later I told them I would be taking prayer requests. As I asked the first offender what his prayers requests were, he looked at me and tears began to flow and he admitted that he was the one I was talking about. He was as low and as lost as he had ever been in life.
Through his tears he spoke clearly as to how he had been watching the other inmates day in and day out (two were pod prayer leaders) talk about Jesus, about His forgiveness, His shed blood, His healing ways and how we can have salvation through Him. I immediately sensed he was ready for an invitation, and he readily accepted, repented and asked Jesus into his heart. It was absolutely surreal as he and the other four inmates rose up off the floor simultaneously in jubilation, hugging and celebration.
Can you imagine what they were doing in Heaven?
Thank you Canadian County Sheriff Chris West for allowing OJPM a seat at the table each and every week – the table may move but our awesome God will be wherever two or three or more are gathered in His name.
Oh, as I returned the following week, I found out after celebrating with many of his cellmates, our new believer took a short nap and was awakened by officers to be fully released – another eruption of joy throughout the pod ensued! What a great God we get to serve.