CR Inside Newsletter

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

CR Inside Eastern Canada Rep Says Hello

Living my life scripture one day at a time with Jesus has been and still is an incredible journey….. Hebrews 13:3 “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

I have been in and out of prison since 1989, visiting two younger brothers and my youngest son. I have personally seen results of volunteers in my families’ lives and now since January 2009 I have had the privilege of being one of a team taking C.R. inside Grand Valley Federal Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario. In September 2011, I had the joy of taking the journey further and became the Eastern Canadian Rep. Not feeling worthy and worried that I had big shoes to fill I am reminded daily that I am not alone and again one day at a time with Jesus I am in awe of what God is preparing us to do and pray His continual support as we move from one stepping stone to the next…….

Breaking the chains of incarceration, one transformed life at a time.

As mentioned before we the team have been in GVI since Jan 2009 and many women have gone through step studies and are now co-facilitating. We started a team in Vanier Center for women provincial jail in October 2011 and offering the program Life’s Healing choices to the bail, remand, trial and short term unit. We have now been asked to go into the sentence unit to provide Step Study. We will be starting this on June 7th of this year. ANSWERED PRAYER Thank you Jesus!

Life’s Healing Choices is in Hamilton Wentworth Detention Center, Hamilton Ontario on the men’s side and in Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in the City of London, Ontario on the men side. Six weeks ago a Team of women started to take it to the women’s side of the same Detention Centre. And Nova Institution Federal prison for women in Truro, Nova Scotia has been running Life’s Healing Choices for a couple of years. As we write these words there is a team meeting with the Chaplain at Ottawa Correctional Detention Centre to take Life’s Healing Choices inside and we rec’d a call from the volunteer co-ordinator at Maplehurst Detention Centre Milton, Ontario “We want Celebrate Recovery” And we have 4 men ready to go in.

As a result of our Church (Yeschurch, Brantford, Ontario) having a CR Sunday just this past month I rec’d a request from a lawyer that was there and has shared the program with a client in the Brantford Jail and she has asked me to contact the Chaplain and counselor and use her name to send literature or a person into her client. We have heard from this Chaplain and we are getting ready to take Life’s Healing Choices to the Brantford, Ontario jail in July and August.


Volunteer jail chaplain’s ‘last career’ is his most important

By JOSHUA ROBERT / Laramie Boomerang (re-posted with permission)

The 29-year-old man has a shaved head, tattoos up and down both arms and standard issue black-and-whites.He speaks softly into the telephone, from behind a glass partition, inside a small room of metal and concrete.The inmate covers plenty of topics in the few minutes left of the allotted visit: his 7-year-old daughter, the drug and assault convictions and life on the wrong side of the glass.

“This place,” he says of Albany County Jail, “it sucks. There are, nonetheless, reasons to be thankful, reasons to hope.He says he’s committed to sobriety.He accepts responsibility for his choices and the consequences. And, he has someone in his corner.

He is definitely a blessing, not just to me, but to other people,” the inmate says of volunteer jail chaplain Rich Henderson. “He’s made my life a little better today.”

Henderson knows the inmate through visits during prior jail stints, and on the outside as part of Celebrate Recovery, a weekly, faith-based program to overcome “hurts, habits and hang-ups.”

On this Thursday afternoon, inmate and chaplain talk philosophy, faith and the future.

“Your relationship with God is what’s important,” Henderson says into the telephone, in response to a question about denominations. “Tags aren’t what’s important.”

Henderson taps on a book, “Free on the Inside,” a Bible written at an elementary school level that simplifies concepts for readers.

The book is his constant companion on jail visits.

Henderson seeks out chapters and verses, flipping through and finding pages, encouraging the inmate with words and messages and parables.

The chaplain mentions the book’s testimonials, short passages written by inmates.“

They will help inspire you,” Henderson says. “These are people who have been where you’re at now.”


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 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.


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.