CR Inside Newsletter

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

Standing Room Only at One Day Lunch

For those who were interested in learning about prison ministry, or learning more, the One Day Lunch this past October in Tulsa Oklahoma provided a great opportunity. Given the limited time for lunch during a One Day, it nevertheless succeeded in presenting the aspects of taking Celebrate Recovery into prisons and jails with status reports, testimonials, photo and video presentations, and goals for the future.

There were 160 seated while another 30 or so stood around the perimeter of the room designated for the lunch. “This is everything we hoped for, considering there are empty tables in the next room” said Cyndi Clark, CR Inside Team Leader, who organized and emceed the lunch. After welcoming the attendees, Cyndi introduced Hector Lozano, National Director, who in turn introduced Oklahoma State Reps, and briefly addressed the group; wanting instead to give time to those who are “in the trenches”, volunteers who are giving back after incarceration, and those inside who are helping to carry the message of hope and healing through Celebrate Recovery and a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

The first two mini-testimonies were delivered by Debra and Lea Ann, two inmates (yes, inmates!) who received special permission to attend. They are both at a work-release facility, which allows them to be picked up, along with other women, to attend CR at Southern Hills Baptist Church (SHBC) and First United Methodist Church (FUMC), both in Tulsa. Lea Ann and Debra attend regularly, have completed a step study at their facility, and are demonstrating growth by taking part in leadership modules and monthly leadership trainings at SHBC. Lea Ann leads a step study inside, and open share at FUMC, while Debra will be leading the next step study.

The next presenter was Rick Cargill, who described how blessed he was to be introduced to CR while incarcerated, and who has been released and now is giving back as an Inside volunteer. Lastly, was Debbie Davis, another person who is gratefully repaying what was so freely given to her…the love and fellowship of caring believers. Her story is inspirational, and her mini-testimony can be read elsewhere in this issue, as can that of Debra. Please look for them, they will first appear on the home page, then migrate to “testimonies”. Debbie is now helping other women to successfully transition from incarceration to inclusion. It is that transitioning that National leadership has been increasingly looking to target, recognizing the challenges that recently released men and women face; and recognizing our call as Christ followers to surround them with support, guidance, and accountability. Some Inside ministries are labeling this “CR Inside/Out”. David Jones (CRI State Rep OK) describes the difference this way: “While CR Inside takes one program to many inmates, Inside/Out takes one (released) inmate to many programs”. This would include housing, furniture, transportation, job search, CR and church participation. With that in mind, Hector designated and introduced the newest State Rep for Oklahoma, Dee Ann Watford, who will pursue the vision of “Inside/Out”. “We are looking for, and praying about ways in which we can encourage other State Reps to also be prayerful and mindful towards implementing teams to focus on re-integration and assimilation” declares Hector, “This has been an area that has been lacking for many released individuals, and the challenges are overwhelming…unfortunately sometimes too overwhelming, and disappointments lead to distress and isolation, which often end up in relapse and re-incarceration”. So true!

The next goal in Oklahoma is hosting CR Inside Regional Meeting (South-Central), and CR Inside One Day Seminar this Spring. We encourage everyone reading this with a heart for the incarcerated to consider how you might be instrumental in helping to plan a CRI One Day in your state. Contact us at the newsletter, or Hector. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few”.