Gary dedicated his career to teaching kids how to write letters. Today, he finds fulfillment in sharing his faith by mail with a unique group of students—men and women behind bars.
His journey to prison ministry was sparked by a desire to experience the Kingdom of God in a new and meaningful way. After an intensive two-year study of the Gospels, he yearned for a deeper connection with God. When he was introduced to Crossroads by a friend, he said that it felt like the perfect fit.
“A lot of what I am writing now about biblical things is what I wanted to write my students but couldn’t in a public school,” Gary said. He has found purpose and fulfillment in sharing his faith with people who are often marginalized, ignored, and stereotyped.
Reflecting on his first six months as a mentor through Crossroads, Gary said, “The key to being a disciple is being a student.”
Reading a story about how a church’s efforts to reach out to people behind bars unintentionally made them feel excluded from the larger church community reinforced Gary’s commitment to his ministry to those in prison. He recognizes the importance of serving and standing alongside fellow disciples who have been forgotten.
As a former English teacher, Gary was pleasantly surprised by the writing skills of his Crossroads students. Initially, he had stereotyped them as not being articulate, but the letters he received challenged that perception. One of his students, Robert, wrote, “I am a work of art who has been painted over by the color of sin. Why am I here? I am here to restore beauty and love.”
Gary is deeply moved by the transformation and restoration he witnesses in his students. He also shared that his experience as a mentor has given him a deeper sense of empathy, acknowledging that he could have followed a similar path as some of his students, having come from an abusive and violent background and having struggled with addiction himself.
While Gary began his mentoring journey with the intention of serving others, he has found himself blessed by his interactions with his students. Six months in, Gary remains passionate about his role as a mentor, drawing inspiration from students who pray for strength and guidance on their faith journeys. The questions and doubts they raise keep him engaged and lead to meaningful discussions rooted in faith.
In Matthew 25, Jesus emphasized that when we visit those in prison, we are visiting Him. For Gary, Crossroads has been a genuine answer to his prayers for his discipleship journey, helping him encounter God in a new way—one he never would have considered on his own.
Gary’s story reminds us that faith can be shared and nurtured through the simple act of writing letters. His commitment to prison ministry has not only brought hope to his students but also deepened his own faith and understanding of God’s grace. If you would like to walk alongside people in prison like Gary does, consider applying to be a Crossroads mentor!