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For I Was in Prison (Newsletter 2-11 Ministry)

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‘Arthur had served 8 years, of a 12-year sentence when we reached him with the Gospel at the half way house. He will tell you that it is the reason he’s never looked back. It has changed his life and you can find him worshipping at the front of our church every Sunday morning. There are thousands of Arthur’s in prison waiting on churches to answer the call of Jesus.”—Mark Foster.    Arthur had served 8 years, of a 12-year sentence when we reached him with the Gospel at the half way house. He will tell you that it is the reason he’s never looked back. It has changed his life and you can find him worshipping at the front of our church every Sunday morning. There are thousands of Arthur’s in prison waiting on churches to answer the call of Jesus.”—Mark Foster

Pastor Mark Foster of West Monroe, LA is passionate about souls; “Matthew 25 gives us some heaven and hell issues and one of these is ministering to those in prison. This is a ministry that the church often has not taken seriously enough,” he stated.

“We had prayed about starting a prison ministry for quite some time, but knew we needed someone to maintain it. Keith and Tanya Riley were between pastorates, and were attending our church, and we discovered that they had a passion for inmates. In March of 2009 I called our sheriff about getting started, and as is said, the rest is history.

“We began working in the Ouachita Parish Correctional Center.  After the Riley’s accepted a pastorate in Texas, Andy Miller took the oversight of the prison ministry at our church, and has since been appointed as the UPCI Chaplain for the state of Louisiana.

“The results have been exponential. Up to this time we have baptized over 500 prisoners in the Name of Jesus, with nearly 400 receiving the Holy Ghost. Currently, ours is the only church allowed to baptize in this facility. Once we began baptizing we had to hold 18 different baptism services to get to all the prisoners. A young woman named Lindsey got out of prison and told her mother, Tammy Jo, that she wanted her to meet my wife, Sis. Paulla. She then brought her mother to church and just a few Sunday mornings ago Tammy Jo received the Holy Ghost,” Bro Foster said.

“What caught the attention of the local sheriff and the news networks was the noticeable decrease in the recidivism rate. Within the first year of our ministry, it drastically fell from 80% to near 50% based on inmates we were ministering to. In an effort to shed a positive light on this center, the sheriff called for a media day.  He scheduled it on a day when our church was teaching Jesus Name baptism and baptisms were being administered by Andy Miller and his team. Two TV stations, as well as our local paper were in attendance on that day.  One station even did a three part series on the positives at the prison through Prison Ministry,” he said.

“We currently hold regular church services every Tuesday evening. Sixty of our church men and women minister to approximately 75 women and about 200 men. In August we began teaching Anger Management, a federally approved program, to the men and women at OCC.  The District Attorney’s office has asked our church to incorporate as much Scripture as possible into the curriculum. The inmates receive credit for attending these classes. We just graduated our first class.

“All feedback from the news reports has been positive.  The article run by our local newspaper was also run in other publications in our state, and has caught the attention of chaplains throughout the state,” the pastor stated.

“The number of released prisoners attending our church services may run from 5 to 10 per Sunday. Many of the prisoners from OCC are transferred to other facilities before they are ever released, thus preventing them from attending our local church. Many are from other states, so upon their release they travel back to their home state. It is our hope that we have put a desire in their hearts for the Truth, and when we are able, we direct them to a UPCI church within their new location.

“I would strongly encourage all churches to get involved in prison ministry. You can contact the State Prison Chaplain, as to actions you should take in getting involved. Mike Rickenbaker, the UPCI Prison Ministry Chaplain, has helped us immensely.”

For more information contact the church office at: 318-322-1467. Or visit the websites: info@buildinggreatlives.com    and   www.buildinggreatlives.com

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