They came together from various locations and life journeys. Among them were church leaders, ex-convicts, recovering addicts and ministry newcomers. For one moment they were united in the same chapel - all with the common desire of taking the Good News of Jesus Christ into jails and prisons.
About 170 people gathered Feb. 8 for a Celebrate Recovery Inside breakout session during the CR One-Day Seminar in Stockbridge, Ga. The lunchtime gathering like the one at Community Bible Church can be seen at any CRI or Summit One-Day Seminar.
Here's a sampler of those who attended the one-day:
Stacie Cotton of Gwinnett County, Ga., said a visit while she was locked up influenced her decision.
"I'm a victim of childhood physical, sexual and mental abuse from my dad and my mom. I was suicidal for the majority of my life. I ended up going to jail at 42 for fighting my son. Someone from church met me there. They were from a church I had been attending prior a few years. It just changed my life.
"When I was in jail, it showed me the need people have for healing. In jail, you sit for hours and hours with nothing to do. Just a kind word that lady said to me and the book that she brought me transformed my life. I want to do that for others.
"They (inmates) don't have a clue on how to get out of that circle. You keep getting spun around in the circle of life and you'll keep spinning you around like a rag doll and you don't have any other hope. Just a shadow of hope can transform a person's life."
By Gloria Nunn - Oklahoma Sr. State Rep. Women
I started planning this event in October of 2011 and started asking churches to host the event. I mentioned it to Peg Choate, Ministry Leader at Fresh Start Community Church (and newest CR Inside State Rep, Ed.), and their staff graciously approved the event. Peg and I started praying every Tuesday evening before CR about the team we would need for this event and for the ones we needed for testimonies and just for God’s guidance in every detail.
By December we had a team of six CR members and assigned tasks such as purchase of food, preparation of food, setup/cleanup, music, and registration. We met regularly each month to pray together. The testimonies were solicited from all State Reps and after reviewing each testimony we selected five all of which were either recently released inmates or currently incarcerated.
From the Editor
Why indeed? In this issue, we’ll explore some experiences of those who’ve attended, or participated in Celebrate Recovery Inside (CRI) One Days. If you’re asking what exactly is an Inside One Day, and what distinguishes it from “community” One Days, read on.
As the name implies, this is a one-day seminar that deals generally with the aspects of prison ministry; and specifically, as it relates to Celebrate Recovery. Not all are called to go “inside”, but for each of us, there exists the opportunity to serve “the least of these” in one form or another.
So what takes place at a CRI One Day? As at any One Day, it begins with registration, fellowship, breakfast snacks, welcome, prayer and worship. The first half of the day deals with the challenges (and blessings), of starting an Inside ministry, with testimonies from incarcerated, or previously incarcerated folks, interspersed with a break, and Q & A. The second half of the day is directed towards the various aspects of Inside Out, or release. As Hector (Lozano, National Director) states, “If we can’t provide direction and support upon release, and they fail, then we’ve failed” Or, "if we don't succeed in effective re-entry, from a recidivism perspective, we don't succeed!"
Also, as always, more stories of graduations, inmate leader trainings, and new video. I regret to say, that part two of our interview with Heather Layne was lost somehow, but the good news is that I’ll be visiting with her again in the Fall and will follow up on our interview. Be looking for interviews with other interesting people, including our National Director, and Carol Mathews, Executive Producer of Home Run. Please keep this film in your prayers, there are many who pray at 9:00 PM nightly, will you join?