My team of ministers is very blessed that our chaplain treats us like human beings, not outcasts.
Here I am in prison stripes, pink underwear, pink t-shirt and socks with bright orange flip flops. My cell is cold, clammy and nasty. I am coming down from a bad substance abuse habit and unsure if my life is worth continuing. I made a promise to God to serve him, I cried out to the Lord, please lift the power of addiction from my life and I will forever be of service to you. That was twenty years ago, no drugs, no hooch, no pills.
Today, I am a certified minister within the prison system assigned to the ‘Chapel of Hope’ unit. God has called me for His glory to be a shepherd and leader. I love my calling, it’s a humbling honor to be of servitude. Unlike outside ministers, I live with my congregation, wear the same uniform, eat the same food, and experience the unpleasant circumstances of being incarcerated.
Our chapel ‘Redeeming Broken Lives’ believes all people have value, deserve mercy and are loved equally. Every one of us doing time has a mighty testimony in our past. We are drug, alcohol and substance abusers, thieves, ex-gang leaders, murderers and master manipulators. Our unit has a high rate of suicides, HIV, hospice patients and mental health. The barbed wire, steel cages, fences, overcrowding, punitive systematic policies, family loss and separation allows hopelessness to thrive. Suicides peak and men develop self-destructive habits which cultivates violence and staff assaults.
In order to minister effectively, I strive to earn and gain their trust. Trust in prison does not come easy. They must witness me, walking the walk. They are professional observers. One of the first characteristics you inherit doing time is to observe. There is a secular term used in prison, called ‘Being 100’, that means your real. Your word is your bond. As a minister, I strive to be 100 with my flock.