January, 1998, began with a new outreach opportunity for ladies in our church: prison ministry. People in our church had been praying for the Richland Parish Detention Center and the women it would house, even before it was built. We had no idea that God would use us to answer our own prayer! The Lord gave us entrance through a GED program that Joy Walters instituted at the warden’s request; she added Bible study as a condition for writing and implementing the program. Our church’s involvement in this ministry came about through God’s gracious answer to prayer. He worked it all out perfectly.
Over the past ten years, many people have been a part of this out-reach; and what a joy it has been! We set out to bring God’s word and a blessing to the inmates, but God, in His goodness, turned the tables and blessed us. As we go to minister, we perceive God’s heart for the hopeless and hurting. Jesus said when we do it unto them; we do it unto Him (Mt. 25). So our joy and blessing come first from pleasing the Father. But the women themselves also bless us in their enthusiasm for the Lord and His word.
Currently, there are 5 team members who go out on Friday mornings to share the word of God: Tut Bolton, Jacklyn Branch, Julie Cooper, Alice Cumpton, and Susan Hoychick. We have a time of testimony, prayer, praise, and Bible study. Attendance is voluntary, and of 450 inmates, about 50 come regularly (and never the same 50). There are women being released and new women coming in all the time, so the field is always ‘white unto harvest’. Prison ministry brings such hope to people who are at a very low point in their lives. Through this ministry many women have been saved; many have been renewed and encouraged; and, of course, many have been strengthened through the faith-building word of God.
Each Christmas our team is fortunate to be allowed into the dorms with a gift for every inmate, and with the wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with all the women, including those who never come to a Bible study. So it’s a marvelous time for our team. But it is also a special time for our church, because everyone can participate in this project. Putting together gift bags take a lot of work and money, but our church family always comes through! What a joy to give of ourselves at Christmas time.
We are always thrilled when anyone wants to visit our prison Bible study. So, if you will, please come and share the love of God with us; come and receive a blessing of joy from a group of women who God loves and has not forgotten; come and minister to them and know that you are doing it unto Him.
If you are interested in helping with this ministry, please contact the church office at 728-3231.