God is doing awesome work at John Lilly Correctional Center! Last Saturday (11-17-12) due to our leaders teaching of the gospel of Christ, we had three men baptized into Christ. This CRI group is growing through the power of Jesus Christ. There are three step studies on every Saturday except for the third Saturday of every month where they have started a praise, worship and a testimony that is open to the yard. Praise God for all He is doing with these men. In two months we will be graduating men from one of the groups and then they will go through Leadership training where THEY will start another step study. We have three step studies going at a time, each on a different lesson. Of course we will have a couple of seasoned leaders in the new group as well. We would have more Step study groups, but there isn’t enough room for any more. In this way we can allow inmates to join every two to three months. At this time we have fourteen qualified leaders in this CR group. Due to their guidance, recruiting and leadership Christ through this CR is spreading through the yard at JHLCC. What a mighty and powerful God we serve!
Terry Finch, Team Leader
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter and trust that I will be able to convey the blessing that I receive from the precious ladies that I am privileged to serve each Monday night. The first Monday I went to Lee Arrendale Prison I experienced “culture shock.” Fences higher than I could ever reach with barbed-wire at the top, doors that lock automatically behind you, and locked gates at every entrance/exit drastically stated “check your freedom at the front door.” I was so intimidated by this most unwelcoming greeting and wondered what I was thinking when I pursued this. You know that God always knows for sure what we question and I’m sure He at least grinned at my assumptions. When the lady prisoners joined us a little later that first night, it was clear to me that I was in the receiving line! Other than the Khaki jumpsuits they looked no different than our group of “church ladies.”
I am presently working with the ladies in the Transitional Center. These ladies are within twelve months of being released and trying to prepare themselves for a productive life. It is a very fluid group with an average attendance of 7. Some of these ladies have jobs in the surrounding area and might be scheduled to work on Monday nights during our Celebrate Recovery time. Others just can’t stay committed to the depth of personal inspection it requires. We have a solid group of 5 who attend regularly and are committed to a better life with God as their head. We share with them, hear their beautiful prayers, and see them soak up His word. They inspire us to stretch ourselves to be closer to Him as we help do His kingdom work.
I’ve had the privilege of hearing the testimony of one of our strongest Christian prisoners at one of the area churches. She definitely has received what God has given her and that is our goal for each of these ladies.
Please continue to join us in prayer for this ministry and as you are able please continue to help us with our budget. It is making a huge difference in the lives of these women and in the lives of those of us privileged to serve them!
Alan S. – I would like to start by stating a little bit about my past. I started drinking when I was seven. I grew up in an abusive family. I smoked marijuana and have been addicted to coke and meth. I felt a void in my heart and was always willing to try anything to fill it. I know now that God is the only thing that fits.
I tried AA with no luck. I came across Celebrate Recovery and saw the light. I knew what I needed, a personal relationship with Christ. ”Lead me, tech me; for you are the God who gives me salvation. I have no hope except in you. “ Psalms 25:5. I knew the path I must follow.
When I arrived at Cheyenne Mountain Reentry Center, I was shining in His glory. I actually prayed to come here and without a word from anywhere or anyone I ended up here. I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw Celebrate Recovery Inside here. I knew I had to participate with this group. Our facilitator, Mr. Squires, has helped meet and even exceed my expectations. His knowledge of scripture gives him the ability to not only guide us through these steps and principles, but show us how they apply to following the Lord’s path.
I am blessed to have this opportunity to be in Celebrate Recovery Inside led by Mr. Squires. I am better for it.
My message today is “Do not be discouraged” when things go wrong in your life. It won’t go on forever. We have to learn to roll with the punches of life. We have to rely on our Lord to take care of us in the tough times. I am the first to admit that sometimes it is hard to remember this as I go about trying to handle my problems all alone but in the end I always rely on Him.
From the first mention of my taking Celebrate Recovery to the women at the jail, Satan has haunted my footsteps at every turn. I have had to keep reminding myself that this is an assignment from my Lord and Savior “and I will not be denied.”
All sorts of things came barreling into my life. On and on I trudged, keeping the faith all the time and telling myself, “this too, shall pass.” But by the time I overcame one thing, here came another. If I had had less faith I would have given up and never gone into the jail again. But I am convinced this is my purpose in life and I will not let anything deter my efforts, no matter how fast and furious they are thrown at me. My Lord’s work is more important than anything else.
I have learned that the more you try to follow the Lord, the more obstacles are thrown in your path, some by accident, some intentional. It’s all the same. One more challenge to overcome.
I know my Lord watches over me and will not let me be overcome. If not, I would have given up a long time ago but my faith keeps me going and it will keep you going if you just remember that He has promised never to leave us. He is our best friend in times of grieving and troubles. I had them both at the same time and it would have been easy to have raised the white flag but the love of my Lord and the remembered love of my family kept me putting one foot before the other down the path I had set out for myself, the one I was divinely appointed to.
I am excited to have the opportunity to share with you what Celebrate Recovery Inside means to me.
With the exception of my first 6 months of incarceration, I have spent every available Monday evening at CRI meetings, since May of 2009. I already knew at that time that this sentence was going to save my life because I knew I couldn't survive forever doing drugs, although at that time, I thought I was invincible. I was thankful for having my life saved, but CRI took it much further than that. ?
I believe God has to sit me down for a minute if I was ever going to know Him. So, I stumbled along, reading the Word, learning to talk to Him. A friend in my dorm asked me to join CRI - we had to sign up for groups to stay in the Faith & Character dorm. Even after I found out I had to talk at group, I stayed. (They can't keep me quiet now!)?
CRI helped change who I was. I learned to forgive, to make amends and to let it go. My nightly habit of the daily inventory will forever be a part of my life. ?
CRI taught me that I am as worthy as the next person. What God did for you, He also did for me. Every promise God has made, He has made to me. I was already attempting to develop a relationship with God and I believe this relationship is stronger because of CRI. ?
CRI is my time for fellowship. We can't choose a service here so I fellowship with my group because that is where I feel surrounded by love and peace. It feels like a family, and the sponsor provided for us, to me, is the ultimate definition of grace. I look to her, I listen to her and I pray that I can become more like her.?
The volunteers have shown us that prison doesn't define who we are and they have helped me to turn my sentence into a positive experience. Without CRI, I would not be where I am today in recovery or in my relationship with God and all others. I am confident that because of the work I've done in CRI, when I walk out these prison gates, my life will be filled with hope, joy, with God and His grace. ?
I truly thank your church and everyone involved in the Celebrate Recovery Program. Thank you for bringing it inside the prison. I hope and pray that all inmates can experience CRI. It has changed my life and will always be a part of my life.
Bless You - Lisa F.
Editor’s note: Shortly before the national release of the movie Home Run, I got to sit with Associate Producer Micah Barnard and Co-Executive Producer Carol Mathews (Co-executive Producer Tom Newman was in England filming “The Christmas Candle”). Their faith in God and faith in what they do is evident in this interview, and evident as well in their vision for the film and for the message that Home Run seeks to bring to this world. DJ
CRIN: Let’s start with your experience of taking the film to Angola (Prison in Louisiana) and what that was like for you.
Micah: It was a surreal experience and very humbling. I had an impression in my mind of what it was going to be like, and it was completely not that impression at all. The inmates were very receptive to the film open, very appreciative that we brought it to them. Many admitted to fighting back tears and it was just a really, really great experience. I got to interview a few of the inmates and hear their thoughts on the film and overwhelmingly everyone was saying that they were just really impressed, not only by the quality of the acting but everything from the cinematography to the way it was directed. I didn’t expect to hear inmates talk that way, and so it was really interesting. They have seen a lot of films, these guys, and so they were really impressed with the film and very appreciative of it.More...