CR Inside Newsletter

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One-Day Comments from Stockbridge, GA

Bobby Pepper

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."

Tommi Lindsey of Morristown, Tenn., already goes "inside" the Hamblin County Jail with a group of women from several churches. They wanted to turn their ministry into a CRI group "because it works," she said.

"We need some thing ongoing and the aftercare. I've been going in the jail for three years to minister to the women. God sent me these ladies. What motivates to go in is to get to know them and love them. We hear the same stories week after week, the dysfunction and the cycle that needs to be broken. God led me to Celebrate Recovery a couple years ago; I've been trying to get it started in my church. ... We want to have that for them to come to once they get out."

John Perrin of Bryson City, North Carolina, became interested in prison ministry after getting involved in CR.

"I've been ready to go back in there with CR. We have about 12 members in our group. I'm an ex-drug addict and alcoholic. I love to go in there and talk with the guys. I believe that's where the rubber meets the road.

"Ever since I got clean and sober six years ago, I've always wanted to combine AA, NA and church. And so Celebrate Recovery came along and I said this is the right combination."

Marshal Myhan, who attends CR in  Hendersonville, Tenn., said he would like to go "inside" when a new facility opens.

"We're learning and still working on ourselves quite a bit. They're talking about building a prison in Hartsville.

"I'm following God's timing. This is my first one-day seminar. We're just getting started. I've quit drinkin' and druggin' for all those years. We're here to learn all we can."

Rickey Kelley of Guntersville, Ala., is already involved in Kairos prison ministry at St. Claire Prison, maximum security prison.

"My interest is to take Jesus to the least of these, the ones people have thrown away. They cast them out as castaways without really knowing the person in general and their situation and realizing they're real human beings. You don't know what their background is, if they have been abused by their mother or father.

"It's all about choices; I've made some bad choices in my life. I deserve to be locked up with them, but I didn't get caught. We're all made bad choices, but they made bad choices and got caught. I'm really not any different than them. I needed a savior, somebody to deliver the Good News to me. I'm no better than anyone else.

"I want to start a CRI separate from Kairos, but use some of the guys from Kairos who have a good background that have been there. I've been doing Kairos for five years. The guys who have been inside, they come back and help with Kairos. I got ministered to by guys in there. We've talked to them about CR and they said it sounded awesome. We want them to get involved and be a part of a core group. My main focus is to get the Kairos guys involved. They've got Jesus and their ready to go with what we're carrying in there and ready to do the work."