CR Inside Newsletter

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

E.W.C.C. in Taft, OK Graduates Over 80 Women

On May 22 over 80 women at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, OK celebrated their recovery by graduating from their 12 Step Study groups held each Sunday at the facility. Volunteers from several churches around Eastern Oklahoma spent each Sunday afternoon from September, 2015 through May, 2016 traveling to the facility to take Celebrate Recovery Inside to the ladies, and providing them the tools to overcome their hurts, habits, and hang-ups through the 8 Principles and 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery.

The worship band Blue Chip Friday from Celerate Recovery at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK traveled to the facility on Sunday afternoon to lead the women graduating, volunteers, and guests in a time of woship to help them celebrate their accomplishment. During the graduation ceremony, a video from Christian recording artist Josh Wilson was played (click here to watch) to allow him to personally congratulate all of the ladies on their graduation, and then several members of the graduating class performed for those in attendance by signing to the Josh Wilson song ‘No More’ which was a huge hit and very special memory for everyone attending.

   

After the time of praise and worship, each participant graduating was presented with a certificate to mark their accomplishment, as well as a Celebrate Recovery Bible to help them continue in their quest for knowledge of God and His will for their lives. God was definitely smiling down on everyone in attendance and all who were there were blessed to be a part of such a memorable moment in these ladies lives!

The program at E.W.C.C. has been in existence for several years, with many volunteers sacrificing themselves each Sunday afternoon from early fall through late spring each year to bring the message of hope and healing of Celebrate Recovery to the Inside to help these ladies find a new life and freedom from their past. Many thanks go out to the volunteers who give of themselves selflessly each week year after year to provide this program at E.W.C.C. and to all of the volunteers at all of the facilities across the United States and around the world who give of themselves for our incarcerated brothers and sisters in Christ.

To God be the Glory!


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

Greetings to you from FCI Waseca

For those of you who have never heard of FCI Waseca – we are a Federal Correctional Institution for female offenders located in rural Minnesota.

Our Celebrate Recovery has been active “inside” Waseca since 2010. It all started with one of us seeing a book with the word “Celebrate” on it and asking “what is that all about?” From that moment on, the seed was planted and 3 years later we are strong and getting stronger.

On July 23rd, 2013 we had another graduation ceremony and our second so far this year. For this ceremony we witnessed 60 women completing the step groups. This has been amazing journey for us all! Being a part of the transformation as we work the steps and begin to face the hurts, habits, and hang-ups we’ve been ignoring for so many years is true freedom. To open the celebration we were blessed to have the warden as the main speaker! She encouraged the women “to always remember this day and how far you have come!” Also in attendance we were fortunate to have some of our outside Celebrate Recovery TEAM. Jackie prepared our hearts by leading us in worship with Dale and Craig praying over us all. We then heard from four inmates who shared their story and how a Christ centered recovery is helping lead them from drug addiction, anger, self doubt, lack of forgiveness, broken families, and prior suicide attempts. This was amazing for everyone to experience.

Our Waseca Praise and Dance team took another step out of their comfort zone and sang an a cappella solo with dance. Together they modeled what a transformed life looks like and they received a standing ovation. We closed our ceremony with a presentation of certificates. For many women in the beginning the goal may have been to get the certificate. Now after completing the steps we know that the real celebration is a transformed life. As we received our certificate each one of us was able to stand tall and proud, knowing that our heavenly father loves them and is well pleased. The ceremony closed with more worship songs, fellowship, and cupcakes!

Thank you Celebrate Recovery


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

CR Inside Graduates at Boley, OK

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!

In Christ

Terry Finch, Team Leader