There and Back Again: (Prison Ministries)
I’ll admit I was nervous. And I think I wasn’t the only one. It’s a little intimidating being in a room with 50 guys who are bigger, stronger, and meaner than you.
Recently I went on the prison ministry trip to Dawson State Jail with Bill Glass Ministries. About 40 LeTourneau students went on the trip, and we spent two days hanging out with the inmates, encouraging them, and sharing our faith.
This was the second year I’d gone on the trip, but many of the attendees were going for the first time. We left LeTourneau on Thursday afternoon, drove to the Dallas area, and attended some training Thursday evening. We slept at a church in Arlington on Thursday and Friday nights, and spent Friday and Saturday at the jail. LeTourneau covered travel, lodging, and most of the meals, so it didn’t cost the students much to attend.
The time we spent inside the jail was interesting. Some of the guys had no interest in talking to us or in listening to the speakers that were part of Bill Glass Ministries. Most of the guys, however, were happy to have someone to talk to, even if they didn’t agree with our beliefs. In fact, one of the guys I talked to even tried to convert me to Islam.
I was surprised to find, however, that the majority of the inmates professed to be Christians. A lot of the guys were very willing to talk about their faith and to open up the Bible. I had some good conversations with guys who shared their personal story and how it had affected their faith. Rather than trying to share the Gospel with people who didn’t believe, it was more a time of encouraging and being encouraged by fellow believers.
The guys live in large rooms called “pods” which have rows of bunks, tables, bathroom utilities, and a few TVs. Several of the pods, including one nicknamed “the God pod,” had a deliberately Christian environment. The guys in that pod have daily Bible studies, frequently pray with the Chaplin, have Bible stories painted on the walls, and even sang us one of the a capella Gospel songs they had been practicing!
Overall, the weekend was a good chance to take a few days off of school and share our faith. Although our team was able to help some people find Christ, I think we all got more out of it than we put in, and definitely more than we expected. …Making it out of jail safely was a nice bonus too.
Written by Ian Willard