While serving as a deacon and usher at his church two decades ago, Dave noticed a man who consistently arrived late to the church service, joining his family in their pew.
After several weeks, Dave felt compelled to ask him why he always arrived late, especially when the rest of his family was consistently early. Dave assumed he was a heavy sleeper, but he learned that on Sunday mornings, this man went into the local county jail to conduct a church service.
“Each week after that, I asked him how it went as he came in late for our church. One Sunday, he asked me if I wanted to give it a try,” Dave said. “I was speechless, having never really been much of an evangelist. I was the owner of a large business and had a young family, and that was all I could seem to handle. But it seemed the Holy Spirit would not let me forget about it . . . especially seeing this man every week who had asked me.”
After discussing it with his wife, Dave decided to undergo the necessary vetting process to be allowed to visit the county jail.
Dave vividly remembers hearing the loud slam of the heavy metal doors behind him as he entered the jail for his first church service.
“I was nervous and scared all at the same time,” he said. “I had never been incarcerated and barely knew anyone who ever had. To really add to the drama, the week prior, there had been a drug-related murder in our area, and the arrested suspects’ pictures were in our local paper. And there, at my very first prison church, one of the suspects came out for our service. I immediately had to confront my own fear and judgmentalism and remember that by God’s standard, we are all wearing orange. I left that first prison service hooked. That was nearly two decades ago.”
Today, Dave leads a volunteer staff of about twenty chaplains who conduct church services three times a week at a local jail. They visit the people incarcerated there and provide Bibles and other religious reading materials.
“God has shown us chaplains over the years that our presence and ministry in the jail bears much fruit. And I am sure there will be much more revealed once we are home with Him in glory,” Dave said. “But even for now, He has blessed [us] and keeps us motivated to keep on sharing the Gospel with some of ‘the least of these.’”
In 2021, Dave was introduced to the Crossroads program through the facility’s supervising sergeant. After researching the program, he decided that becoming a Crossroads mentor would complement his existing ministry.
“One thing I never thought of when I signed on for this was how much studying the Bible, listening for the Spirit, and preparing a message to deliver to the [students] would boost my own spiritual walk with our Lord,” he said. “So much so that it almost seems like I am the one getting the most benefit!”
Crossroads provides a unique opportunity to follow God’s mandate to care for those in prison regardless of whether a person can physically visit a prison or jail. Whether you are looking for a way to complement the ministry you are doing or a way to get involved in prison ministry, consider applying to become a Crossroads mentor.
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