CR Inside Newsletter

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Unspoken Performs at Maine State Prison



By Gerald Boguhn, CR Inside State Rep Maine

Recently the Maine State Prison had some musical visitors who blessed the inmates in the medium security wing of the prison. Those visitors were the Christian contemporary band Unspoken. A great group of guys who’s popularity is only rivaled by their humbleness. They came in to visit, play an acoustic set of songs and share testimonies.

The event was put together very quickly in January of this year, and was up in the air until a few days prior to their appearance. Due to their concert schedule, time constraints and prison policies, nothing was for sure until the last minute. But in the end, God was faithful and a wonderful event for the inmates was made possible.

It started in early January of 2015 as I was looking through upcoming concerts I could attend. I saw that Unspoken was coming in concert and I knew of them not just due their popularity and radio air play. I was very familiar with them through their ties to Maine, several calling Maine home. I got the idea that a CR Inside concert might be a possibility due to the location of one of their concerts at Waldoboro Baptist Church in Waldoboro, ME being only 30 minutes from the Maine State Prison. This is also the church home of one of our CR Inside volunteers. I contacted the band by Facebook explaining that I was the Maine State Celebrate Recovery Inside Representative and asked if they would be interested in visiting The State Prison to play for the inmates. They responded with a definite yes, if they could fit it in to their schedule. I soon came to find out that they had volunteered to appear for Celebrate Recovery before and soon also discovered the reason why. Unspoken first came together after Chad Mattson met guitarist Mike Gomez on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic. Chad had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for years and decided to go on a mission trip to re-build his relationship with God. It was there in the Dominican Republic where Chad’s eyes were opened and he came to know Christ in a powerful way.

After Mike moved to Chad’s hometown in Maine, the two began playing music together, and performing live shows. Bass player Jon Lowry and drummer Ariel Munoz from Puerto Rico later joined the band and Unspoken was born. Chad credits Christ with his recovery. This is evident in one of my favorite songs they perform called “My Recovery” (Watch the video below). So after about a month of back and forth messaging we were able to work out all the details and the visit was able to happen.

Unspoken arrived at the Maine State Prison around 12:30 PM on Sunday January 25, 2015 to come in and minister to the men and staff with an acoustic set as well as testimonials. They were greeted by Chaplain Kevin Fortier as well as leaders from several ministries to include Kandyce Powell from Maine Hospice Counsel in the front lobby. Once inside of the facility, the men from Unspoken were greeted again by several men from within the community and Chad shared some testimonies from his own life which touched everyone in the room. Unspoken introduced themselves, played several songs such as 'The Good Fight’, 'Bury the Workman' and others. Unspoken was very well received by everyone. Ariel the drummer offered to give his 'kickbox' to the men, Chad also offered to give some CD’s to the facility. Chaplain Fortier received these as blessings and gave them to the men. (Note: He picked these items up at the First Baptist Church in Waldoboro a little later on as they needed the kick box drum for the evening concert, and they did not have the CD’s with them there.)

Unspoken gave more than a concert event, they brought hope into the prison as they shared testimony, time, and gave of themselves just talking and listening to the men at Maine State Prison. They stayed longer than they thought they could, but were blessed by an acoustic song from some of the men at Maine State Prison who used the kick box as well as an acoustic guitar and everyone sang and were joyful. It was a real blessing to just to hear from Unspoken, and see that there is hope and healing that comes from Jesus Christ. Chad shared many testimonies and also went into the Gospel to read and share from the Word.

There was a time of Question and Answer where people could ask questions of the band members. There was also a time after the 'set' where the members of the band just met with as many people as possible, and where the men at Maine State Prison expressed their thanks to Unspoken for coming in.

This was a tremendous blessing to everyone and the men from Unspoken seemed equally blessed also. And to top it off it appears as if they would like to come again in the future. The event was truly a showing that God lives and works in the prisons and jails shining light into darkness. It also showed the humbleness of true Christ followers as Unspoken truly are.

Special thanks goes out to Unspoken for coming to share their time and talent with the men of Maine State Prison, and to Chaplain Kevin Fortier for his huge contribution to this article and awesome support for CR Inside and our team. Thanks also to our friends from Straight Ahead Ministries for their hard work and co-ministering at the Maine State Prison. Last but not least, a huge thank you to our Lord God for this amazing blessing!

Unspoken - My Recovery


Sussex Correctional Institution Graduation–Dec. 10, 2014

By Rev. Vince Valva – Ministry Leader

A first in the State of Delaware!!! On Dec. 10, 2014, we graduated 29 inmates from our CR Inside long-program at Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, DE. How did this happen? It’s an amazing story! A new Chaplain, Rory Russell replaced the recently retired Chaplain. All volunteer programs were suspended for three months for review of effectiveness and need. We were requested to define our program (God’s Way To Recovery, Inc.) in writing and defend its continuance with measurable parameters. We had been running the GWR program for seventeen years in the Boot Camp which was not a part of the Chapel program. After submitting the defense of our program, the Chaplain asked that we bring it to the Chapel as well.

For approximately one year, we ran the GWR program in both venues. During this time, the Chaplain wanted something more to reduce the recidivism rate. He felt the inmates had an ample number of Bible studies, services & preaching, but they were still re-entering at an unacceptable rate. I was leading Celebrate Recovery at our church & suggested he consider it for the Chapel. The Chaplain reviewed the four Participant Guides & after considerable discussion, he embraced the CR-Inside Program. I presented him with a detailed schedule including “Home Run the Movie,” “Words,” “Three Doors” & Paul’s testimony-Vol. 5 followed by the 25 Lessons interspersed with testimonies on tape. We concluded with a graduation ceremony, presentation of completion certificates & a graduate’s live testimony.

This is an amazing story because God was intimately involved in the entire process! Approaching eighty four years of age, I was attempting to minimize my involvement in the Boot Camp Prison Ministry & I was making good progress. About that time the new Chaplain came on board & with both the Boot Camp & Chapel I needed to delay my plans. When Celebrate Recovery entered the picture, I was required to re-double my effort in the Chapel since I was the only one of nine volunteers with CR experience. We truly needed God’s help to get this off the ground. I committed us to achieve a great deal & truly believed God was in this & He would provide the resources to bring it to a successful completion. I was counting on using some of our Boot Camp volunteers as well as seeking new volunteers for the CR program. Surprisingly, the Prison Boot Camp Program was summarily eliminated so all of these volunteers became immediately available & one new volunteer with CR experience also came on board. Hallelujah, God did it!!

Now that we had the bodies, we undertook a crash training course for all volunteers. It was minimal training, but most of these men had been teaching or preaching or counseling for years; I knew them & trusted them. We plunged in to the CR-Inside Program immediately after the training & the rest is history.

The Inmates enthusiastically embraced the worship, lessons & testimonies. They answered the questions & participated in Small Group discussion with intensity & interest. Though struggling with trust, they eventually opened-up enough in Small Group to achieve desired purposes. Enthusiasm was maintained throughout the 25 lessons & 36 weeks it took to complete the program. Sixty inmates started & twenty nine completed the program. Six have submitted written testimonies; three have delivered their testimonies before the group.

The second running of CR-Inside has already begun. Fifty new inmates have signed-up, plus 8 trained inmate leaders, plus 6 trained inmate sponsors for a total class of 64 inmates. We lost 4 volunteer leaders so that we now have 5 volunteer leaders & are seeking new volunteers. Lesson 1 “Denial” was taught last week so, with God’s help, we are on our way again!!

Afterthought:

Two difficulties were encountered in running the CR-Inside Program.

1. Space – We broke into four groups all meeting in the Chapel. While separated as effectively as possible, the noise level was high enough to be disturbing to all making hearing difficult at times.

2. Volunteer Leaders - Two Leaders were assigned to each group, I was the alternate. Invariably one and often two of the Leaders could not show up for various valid reasons. Consequently, I filled in as an alternate approximately 85% of the time.


Westville Correctional Facility Graduations - 2014

By Michael Higgins – CR Inside Leader

Westville Graduation-May 2014

Here are 2 photos of 2 different graduation classes of the CR Inside program at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, IN this year. (All graduates are not in the photos at the request of the inmates.) The Celebrate Recovery Inside program is part of the ‘Plus Program’ at this facility. The first photo is of the class that graduated in early May of 2014. The second photo is of the class that graduated November 4, 2014. The facility allows us 26 weeks for each class, and we are excited to hear that a graduate of an earlier class has started an inmate led CR Inside in another section of the facility.

I asked the last class what they were expecting before they came to the class. One inmate responded, "I was expecting another cookie cutter recovery program." I asked what he meant to which he replied, "Almost all the recovery programs are run the same." I asked him "How are we different?" He replied, "Your program is very different, tying all of those scriptures from the bible to your lessons. And having those live testimonies from former inmates have been a big help.

Westville Graduation-Nov 2014

Another inmate said, "The testimonies from former inmates has seemed to have broken a barrier of hope with the outside."

Yet another inmate said, "I felt that the video testimonies were a big help for me."

Another inmate said he came to the class without an addiction but he feels the program has helped him grow spiritually.

I can personally testify that I have seen some major changes to the men that have come to these classes. Not always right away, but the truth sometimes comes to them later.

I would like to thank Greg Demass for being our Chaplin during the inventory phase, and my brother Dan Higgins for being there to keep the program running. I also wish to thank all the people who gave up their time to come in to share their testimonies during these classes.

Michael Higgins
CR Inside Leader

Why are so many women in prison? • BRAVE NEW FILMS

One-Third of the World's Women in Prison Have One Striking Thing in Common

They're locked up in the United States. All 201,200 of them.

Brave New Films recently aired an educational short that claimed the following: Not only are a significant percentage of women pregnant when imprisoned, more than 70% are also the primary caregivers of at least two minors. This spells disaster for many families, as children of the incarcerated are systematically dumped into the notoriously problematic foster care system, or "other [similarly] unstable situations."

On top of which, children of incarcerated parents are five times more likely than their peers to commit crimes.

It gets worse: In terms of the women themselves, female inmates face both higher rates of sexual abuse, mental illness (73% versus 55% for men) and chronic or communicable medical problems (59% versus 43% for men) than their male counterparts, the Sentencing Project reports.

Read the complete article at mic.com.


Welcome to the new CR Inside Newsletter

By Tom S. Hammack, Webmaster

We are proud to launch the new CR Inside Newsletter platform. We are excited to finally allow interaction between our followers and volunteers and the editors and staff. We think this change will bring a new level of information exchange to our following, and be a help to those who are (or feel called) to be involved in CR Inside to better keep up to date on happenings within this Ministry. Please be sure to check back often to see new content as it is added. You can also subscribe to updates from the blog to be notified when new posts are added by navigating to the bottom of the right hand menu on the blog pages in the 'Newsletter' section and entering your email address and clicking the 'Notify me' button. Please be assured we will never sell or otherwise use your email address for any purpose other than to send announcements about the CR Inside Ministry.

We are sure you have noticed things have changed quite a bit from the old CRI Newsletter interface, but know that the same people that were providing updates to the original site are now able to dynamically add content to this site to speed up the process of getting the word out about CR Inside around the country and around the world. This will help keep everyone more current on news, events, and other items for CR Inside.

Please be sure to check out the FAQ's Page to help you find your way around the new layouts and changes. Some things that were originally on the CRI newsletter site have been moved to our companion website at www.cr-inside.org. Please be sure to read over the FAQ's page for general questions and answers about CR Inside, and where to find things like the State Rep List and CR Inside Directory pages. For information from one of our Regional Editors or to send a general inquiry please email us at info@cr-inside.org. The Regional Editors will be monitoring this email account and will be following up for you on any requests.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on the new sites, or have a suggestion for a feature or added functionality, please feel free to send me an email at webmaster@cr-inside.org.

Thanks again for your interest and for being involved in the ministry of CR Inside. We hope the new CR Inside Newsletter gives you a better understanding of what motivates us to be God's hands and feet to the incarcerated, and provides the information, tools and support you need if you are currently (or feel called for) taking CR inside.

Tom S. Hammack
CR Inside Webmaster
webmaster@cr-inside.org


Fowler Helps Women With Their New Beginnings

Lisa Fowler-New Beginnings

Lisa Fowler first attended Celebrate Recovery in prison because she heard it could help her following her release. Years later, Fowler is still in CR as a leader who assists women with their re-entry after being incarcerated or in rehabilitation.

Fowler works for New Beginnings Ministry, a long-term, Christ-centered recovery program in Martin, Ga. Before joining the staff, she was a New Beginnings client seeking help from her struggles. One of Fowler's responsibilities at New Beginnings is teaching the center's CR group. She also serves as a Celebrate Recovery Inside state representative for Georgia. "It's become a part of my ministry," she said.

Fowler was introduced to CR during her two-year stay at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Georgia. She was 48 when she went in. "The ladies from Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville led it," she said. "When I first went in, my intentions were to get an address to parole out to. I had heard if you went there, they help people find addresses." Fowler received more than addresses. She found freedom from her past and a calling to serve God through CR.

From prison, Fowler went to New Beginnings, a residential center which helps women recover from alcohol and drug addiction. New Beginnings can hold up to 70 clients. "When you go through the program, you have 10 months to complete and 12 months to graduate," she said. "It gives you all that time to work on yourself. "When I graduated from there, I went ahead and became staff there," Fowler added. "I started leading Celebrate Recovery. It's a required class. You also have Bible classes and church 13 times a week. If you can't get your life straightened out by then, you're in pretty bad shape."

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