Prison Ministry in Allendale

I came to Allendale to work with kids, right? My wife and I served with children’s ministry at Grace Church for years, and then I was a children’s pastor. We moved to Allendale to help launch an after school program in 2011, and have continued to serve in programs for kids throughout 2012.

But I recently to an initial training meeting for Kairos Prison Ministry (not to be confused with Grace’s Kairos internship program for college students). And I hope to serve in this ministry event at the Allendale Correctional Institute on October 31 – November 4.

So what’s up with me thinking about prison ministry? Three things brought me to this point: an inspiring roommate, a persistent and optimistic doctor, and a desire to see the Spirit work.

My Bodyguard

I lived with Mike Smalls for almost 3 months, when I began working in Allendale County. He is an officer at the detention center in Hampton County. In the rare times that we were able to talk, he would often share with me stories how how God was working in the lives of inmates. He saw lives changed firsthand, as people heard and responded to the gospel.

He asked me to pray for the Spirit to continue to work in the prisons. And I still do about once per week.

Though I was “sure” that I needed to focus on my ministry to children, God was sowing a seed in my heart.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Dr. Roger Nunn has lived, worked, and ministered in Allendale for years. He’s always patient with me as I show him yet another “boo-boo” of mine, and doesn’t hesitate to help me out (like fitting me for the splint that I’m wearing now — and trying to type with — on a Saturday). And he serves in many other ways, including being the team doctor for the football team.

He has been involved with Kairos Prison Ministry for even  longer than he’s lived in Allendale. I heard about this ministry from him last summer, and he invited me to check it out this past spring, but I was busy with my 4 jobs at the time.

Not giving up, he pursued me again about a month ago. Even with all my concerns about timing, he kept encouraging me to just take part in what I can. (My biggest concern is that the event is on the same weekend as the first round of high school football playoffs, which we expect to make.) He is always optimistic, encouraging, and calm.

Not surprisingly, at the initial training event that included 15 men (most of whom have done a Kairos event, but also some rookies like me), at least one-third pointed to Dr. Nunn as the man who recruited them to participate.

God at Work

We want to see God change lives in Allendale. He is already doing that, for sure, but we want to be a part of His mission to spread the gospel in Allendale.

Dr. Nunn and others have shared numerous stories of encouragement, of how they’ve seen the Spirit touch the lives of prisoners. Kairos is about changing hearts, transforming lives, and impacting the world, through teaching the message of the gospel and through loving relationships.

Here’s what some men had to say:

  • “Kairos is the best thing going on in prison.”
  • “These fellas don’t know God. It’s up to us to bring Him to them.”
  • “Everything we do will point to Jesus, and we will do this through showing love.”
  • “I’ve had prisoners tell me on the first night that they hate me, and then by the end they tell me they love me and Jesus.”

Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that? Surely it’s worth a small sacrifice of time.

What’s Next?

A series of Saturday morning training and team-building events will help us prepare for the event that will begin on October 31. Since it’s my first time, and since I won’t be available for the entire time, I will serve as a “runner,” doing servant tasks (as opposed to leading discussions in the break out groups).

I don’t know how many times I’ll take part in Kairos, but all these men talk about how addictive it is, as they have witnessed firsthand the power of the Spirit.

Edit:  Read the post-weekend summary, in Prison Ministry: A World of Unforgiveness, Isolation, and Pain, and how you can be involved in Are You Interested in Prison Ministry?  

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”  Hebrews 13:3

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3 responses to “Prison Ministry in Allendale”

  1. Mark and Renee DeMoss says :

    When Mark and I moved to Greenville we were involved in The Walk to Emmaus. Kairos is (or was) under the same umbrella. We became friends with Joanna and Frederick Neubert thru Emmaus (who are now at Grace). They were very involved in Kairos, and still might be. About 12 years ago she asked me to serve as a table leader so we went to the closing at the prison in McCormick. I did not feel that was my calling, but it is a great ministry. I’ve baked lots of cookies for them, though. Always enjoy your posts.


    • joeyespinosa says :

      Sorry. Not sure how I missed this comment last week.

      Yeah, I learned about the connection of these (and other) ministries. I’ve never been involved in either, but an college teammate of mine (and a former roommate) became a Christian through Emmaus.

      We had our 2nd meeting this past Saturday. I’m getting more and more excited!

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  1. On Prison and Leadership | - September 15, 2015

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