CR Inside Newsletter

The blog for CR Inside. Much talk about all things CR Inside...

New Jersey CRI Volunteers awarded

I was sharing with John Baker the wonderful work The Lord is doing in NJ and PA through the ministry of CRI. At that time he requested I send him a photo of our CRI leaders holding the award we received from the Federal Bureau of Prisons for being the program that has had the most impact in the lives of the inmates in the history of the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.

CRI meetings at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, NJ (where we go to every Tuesday) are now 100% inmate led!! Very exciting! The only exception is the Spanish speaking group that I just started last week. But the English speaking group (24 ladies) is now facilitated by two of the inmates that completed the step study last April, showed remarkable progress in their recovery, and we trained to lead the new step study. Our team attends THEIR meeting now! Truly a blessing to see God at work in such a powerful way!

Joyfully abiding, Lidia


Westville Graduation

On October 22 2013 Westville Correctional Facility in Northwest Indiana had their first graduation class of CR Inside. The class started with 34 inmates and six leaders and finished with 25 graduates. We had 5 live testimonies from our leaders and several video testimonies from other Celebrate Recoveries. Getting more live testimonies into the prison will be one of my biggest concerns for our next class. We covered the course in a 26 week period as the prison allowed.

Our leadership team lost 3 people by the end of the class due to school or other ministry requirements but 6 of the inmates have stated they would like to be on the leadership team for the next 26 week class. We had one inmate that asked to be baptized while being in the course.

The students were asked what their spiritual state was before the course, what is it now, and what they planned to do with there learning. Most said they believed in God before, and many said they had renewed faith or hope after taking the course. Most said they will use what they learned to improve themselves and their relations with Jesus, and others said they will use it to help others.

Michael Higgins
CRI leader

Meet Marian Collins, South-Central Regional Editor

I was born in Virginia in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I married at 19 and had two beautiful girls. After 13 years though my marriage was over and I moved to Texas where I reared my girls while working full time and attending college. In '02 I married my best friend on the front steps of the state capitol building in Austin...at midnight. I retired in '07 after 35 years of working as a lab tech but, came out of retirement in '11...and thus the greatest journey of all began.

I was approached the fall of '04 by a friend who informed me that Celebrate Recovery was going to be starting at our church and asked if I would like to be involved...uh yes! Jan. '05 was our start up date. I've led five step studies, served as a small group leader, an encourager & training coach and served as the female ministry leader. In '07 I was one of four who was blessed to go to Jaco, Costa Rica to introduce Celebrate Recovery. For years I had wanted to take CR inside the prison walls however circumstances beyond my control kept this at bay. But God cannot be stopped. I was approached spring of '11 by the Warden and Chaplain from a local facility about bringing CR inside. I was privileged spring of '12 by becoming the East Texas CRI State Rep. Since then I have introduced CR to other prisons throughout East Texas. At the unit I call home, there are in any given year, 9,000 inmates rotating through these wired gates. What a CR 101 this is! The women's CR large group runs on Monday evenings, the men's on Wednesday evenings. Over the last two years approximately 800 inmates have gone through LHC's.

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An Ordinary Sunday

As I walk through the parking lot designated for “Visitors,” it hardly seems as if I am a visitor. Standing at the entrance I feel God take my hand and lead me into worship. Just like scenes played out all over the world, millions of believers gather at their places of worship, take that same walk to the front door, are greeted by fellow church members, and select a preferred seat. It is one I have taken for granted at every church gathering. For most of us that walk is free of even a passing look by outsiders, but for thousands of believers in the United States, the walk to the front door of their place of worship is an open act of courage noticed by each person they pass: It is noticed by armed officers, fellow inmates, prison staff, and volunteers. Each one is counted and recounted by officers, mental notes made by onlookers at the gates, who protect the front doors of this place of worship.

On a hot Sunday in August I and four other female prison volunteers who go “inside” several times a week, joined about 100 men for one of five Protestant services at Greystone Chapel inside the high security gates at historic Old Folsom Prison. We were invited guests and were welcomed as such, and I was amazed at the surprising contrasts between that place and my usual Sunday morning experience at church.

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Meet Bishop Frank Willett, Northeast Regional Editor

After being in CR at Trinity Life for about 6 months I was asked if I'd be interested in going inside the Baltimore County Detention Center teaching the program and I agreed.Little did I know that this is where God wanted me to be after all these years in Ministry in the pulpit. After entering the facility and seeing the inmates I felt comfortable among them and saw their need for the word and knowledge. Shortly thereafter I was approached by Pastor Handel Smith and asked to start up a new group in a Federal facility formally known as Super Max in Baltimore. We Kicked off in June of this year and I've been there every since, at one time it was just me until I was able to obtain some help. I started with 21 detainees and have graduated 3 classes of men totaling close to 50 now that completed Purpose Driven Life and Life’s healing Choices. These courses have been taught 2.5 times and we have now moved to the 12 steps.

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Meet Bobby Pepper, Southeast Regional Editor

Bobby Pepper, who serves as Southeast regional editor for the CRI newsletter, is community news editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, MS. He has been with the Daily Journal 28 years, which includes stints as a sports writer, assistant sports editor and online editor. Pepper first attended Celebrate Recovery in March 2011 and is in recovery from porn addiction, depression, divorce and workaholism. He is co-ministry leader of CR at NorthStar Church in Saltillo, MS. Pepper previously served as assimilation coach and continues to lead the men's step study and small groups. He has led men's step studies for CR groups in Starkville, MS, and in his hometown, Houston, MS, He also attended CR in Tupelo, MS, Pepper is a 1985 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a BA in Journalism. He is single and has two grown children, Phillip and Samantha.


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