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

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

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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Kentucky Inmates Celebrate Milestone in Celebrate Recovery Program

by Kelly Paul, Advance Yeoman (re-printed with permission)

Wickliffe-A group of six men currently incarcerated at the Ballard County Detention Center dedicated to turning their lives around celebrated a milestone in their recovery from alcohol and/or drug abuse and other issues that have taken a stronghold on their lives. On Monday, Pastor Jamie Lee of Grace United Methodist Church in La Center celebrated with the men as they acknowledged their having completed six months of hard work in a program called Celebrate Recovery.

Grace United Methodist Church has offered Celebrate Recovery on Thursday evenings since January 2012. The program has been growing strong and has been helping people not just with substance abuse, but with other issues as well. These issues include but are not limited to divorce, abuse, low self-esteem, and depression. Jailer Mike Horn approached Lee one day about bringing the program to the inmates. Since then, Lee has been meeting weekly with the men at the Ballard County Detention Center for over six months.

The small group of men all showed great appreciation for Lee for having had taken the time to come out to the detention center to show them “the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process.” They all shared their gratitude for Lee, Jailer Mike Horn, and the Celebrate Recovery Program. They also expressed a deep desire to continue with Celebrate Recovery as they work toward getting their lives back on track after having been incarcerated for one reason or another.

“Mike and Jamie stayed faithful and gave us opportunity. Most jails don’t care about your spirituality,“ said Mannie Mathews-Honarmand. “They could be doing something else… Christ is moving in this jail.”

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