Chaplains hold revival, see 51 professions of faith, 27 baptisms, 90 worship participantscomment (0)
May 10, 2012
By Carrie Brown McWhorter
Ministry volunteers at the Coffee County Jail are serious about Jesus’ directive to visit those in prison, and the response to a revival held at the jail April 19–21 encourages them that their efforts are making a difference.
According to jail administrator Richard Moss, pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church, Elba, in Coffee Baptist Association, the three-day revival at the New Brockton facility saw 51 professions of faith and 27 baptisms.
More than 90 inmates voluntarily participated in the worship services, a major portion of the jail population, Moss said.
Services were held on Thursday and Friday evening under a tent set up in a secure area of the facility.
On Saturday, the inmates were offered sack lunches, and the service was held after lunch.
Each service featured praise and worship music, followed by the testimony of individuals who are recovering from drug or alcohol dependency.
Rob West, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Enterprise, and Moss shared pastoral duties during the revival.
This is the second time the jail has hosted a revival meeting, Moss said. The first was a one-day event in April 2009 that resulted in 75–80 decisions and 56 baptisms.
Since then, an interdenominational ministry effort has been underway for male and female inmates at the jail, including three discipleship classes and a class on overcoming addictions, Moss said.
According to Moss, 38 volunteer chaplains serve in the jail monthly, representing several churches in Coffee County.
“The ultimate goal of the discipleship programs is to direct men and women to make choices that parallel a walk with Christ,” Moss said. “We want to give the inmates an opportunity to express themselves spiritually.”
Volunteers are active in education classes as well, according to Coffee Association Director of Missions John Granger.
“The education programs are a real plus,” he said.
“Obviously, if you are going out into the workforce without even a high school diploma, it is hard to get a job.”
Granger said the GED classes help the inmates feel that they are making accomplishments, which helps them feel better about themselves.
Education also gives inmates a better chance at employment after their release, which makes them less likely to get in trouble, he
The mandate to minister to prisoners comes directly from Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Moss said.
He believes the jail ministry has created a greater awareness in the community of the needs of inmates and their families, as well as the need for inmates to have a support system in place once they are released from prison.
“We have many people in this situation, and we want to make sure that when a man or woman leaves the jail, there is a church out there ready to embrace them and nurture them consistent with Scripture,” Moss said.
Granger said that while the jail ministry is still a work in progress, the ministry volunteers and the churches who support them have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of inmates.
“So many people come through our jail these days, and anything we can do to help them while they are there or once they get out is a good thing,” Granger said.