Prison Ministries serves others by ministering to the needs of inmates in North and South Carolina. In preparation for ministry, volunteers are trained and continuing education is offered by Adventist Prison Ministries Organizations and Affiliates (APMOA), the Southern Union Conference and the Carolina Conference. There were 45 in attendance at workshops during the Prison Ministries Convention, which was held for the first time in July 2022 in Charlotte at the Conference office.
The 50-plus volunteers who serve in both North and South Carolina provide various programs at Manning, Evans, Broad River, Tiger River, Craggy, Black Mountain and other correctional institutions. At the MacDougall and Lieber correctional institutions, volunteers prepare and provide dinner on the July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
For the first time, an Adventist chaplain serves at the Camille Graham Correctional Institution for Women.
Our first church plant inside a prison started in the South Carolina Department of Corrections at Lieber. Known as Freedom Through Christ, this service has 125 inmates attending. Since COVID-19, some of the men were have been transferred to other institutions, but their relocation opened the door for our second in-prison church plant at Evans Correctional Institution. Three inmates are still waiting to be baptized at the Freedom Through Christ church in Lieber.
An often-overlooked but very important aspect of Prison Ministries is ministering to the released inmates living in our communities. These battered souls need our continued friendship and mentorship. It is easy to lose touch with them, which is why we are building our first Transitional House in Gilbert, S.C. The land and building were donated by Bill Morgan, and LB Construction is doing the renovations. The North American Division gave $13,500 to this project. Kitchen cabinets and countertops have been donated, and local churches contributed the remaining monies needed to finish the project. At the time of this report, we are 80 percent done with the Transitional House and only need to insulate the walls before hanging sheetrock, laying the flooring, and painting the interior. Praise Jesus! The board of directors for the Transitional House include Robert Dawson, Tony Bowers, Bill Morgan, David Dorn, Lori Strange, Larry Barker and Victor Gonzalez.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus has literally shut down all ministry in the prisons and jails. Not even families have been allowed in to visit. Regardless, with God leading the way, volunteers have been getting creative. Instead of the annual prison staff appreciation dinner inside the women’s unit, a drive through was organized. Prison volunteers were invited to come outside to receive an appreciation certificate and a bag of goodies. The grateful prison staff shared that the inmates really miss meeting with the volunteers for worship and Bible study, and are eager to have them come back in.
The only true problem solver for crime is Jesus, and it is an honor to watch Him restore our inmates to their families and loved ones. Please pray that the prisons will fully reopen so we can continue to share the Good News with “the least of these” (See Matthew 25:40).
It is a privilege and honor to be involved with Prison Ministries. When you give to an inmate, you truly give, because they have nothing to give back but love.
Volunteer Area Coordinator