Category Archives: Fall 2016

My Band of Brothers

By Tom Gibson, Coach of our Illinois Saints softball team

I am currently reading a book by a Navy SEAL who fought in the war in Iraq (The Last Punisher by Kevin Lacz).  Early in the book he remembers a situation where he and his Seal teammates had to rush to the top of a rooftop and defend their position.  He talks about the moment and talks about how proud he was to serve with that team and how much he loved his SEAL brothers.  One line from the book says “I had literally nothing but my gun and my brothers.  I hope it will always be like this.”

I have really grown to love stories from our armed forces and especially the Navy SEALS.  I love the stories of men banding together as brothers.  Sacrificing and fighting hard for a common purpose.  I have also grown to regret not serving my country.  Serving with the Saints Prison Ministry has quenched some of that desire.  I love the group here in Illinois that I serve with and I love the brothers across the country that I get to call teammates a couple of times a year.  There have been countless stories over my brief five years in the ministry in which I have seen missionary athletes make sacrifices for the sake of sharing the Gospel as well as making sacrifices in serving each other.  I have seen guys wake up at crazy hours of the morning, miss events in favor of a Saints outing, and sacrifice playing time in order to spend more time sharing the Gospel with inmates.  I have seen guys serve each other by encouraging them on the field or after a Gospel presentation.  I have also seen our guys serve by giving up their seat on a long trip or by making sure someone else got to eat first after a long day.  I have seen our guys serve by comforting a hurting teammate who just lost a loved one or who had a sick kid (or grandkid!) at home.  I have also seen our guys serve on the toughest of the front lines by confronting a teammate who needs to be confronted about a sin issue.   One of the unexpected blessings of starting a team here in Illinois is the godly men that God has brought into my life to serve alongside.  I have grown and seen them grow as well.il-team-at-robinson

Our trip to Robinson Correctional Center was typical of the Illinois Saints experience – once again a very early morning and a three hour drive – but sharing it with these men makes it easy to face that long drive.  Upon arriving at RCC, we found we had the opportunity to play 4 games against a few different inmate teams.  We won the first two games of the day on the backs of some big time hitting from our guys.  In between the first two games, Jesse Miller shared his life story about how he came to know Jesus as his Savior, and Darrell Pine – a charter member of the Illinois Saints – once again did a great job of sharing the Gospel with the men there.

After we returned from lunch, we again did battle on the field, winning the first game and tying the second game before they called yard.  However, in between games Jeremy Test shared his testimony about how he came to know Jesus.  I have heard his testimony several times and I am very proud of the godly young man he has become.  Jeremy is also a charter member of the team and has grown to become one of the leaders on which I depend heavily.  After JT finished, I shared the Gospel.  It is always an honor to share the Gospel in prison, and I was blessed with a very attentive crowd.

Overall on the day, we handed out 295 Gospels of John and saw 58 men make a first time commitment to follow Jesus!   According to the Officer in Charge, we were the first outside team to come in and minister at Robinson CC in more than 15 years! He was very pleased with the way we interacted with the inmates, and commented that the day will be talked about for a long time.  I believe the quality of the men that I call my brothers has a lot to do with his impression of our ministry!

I am so proud of these men, and I hope it will always be like this!

God Called …Me?

by Jimmy Cochran, SE Regional Director

God calls us all……..whether working with Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, sharing the gospel with the homeless, or serving in the mission field of the secular workplace. But when God called me to the Saints Prison Ministry full-time, I discovered that no matter the calling, when we put our “Yes” on the table, we never truly know the refining and the pruning the Lord is going to put us through. You might have a conversation like mine with the Lord:

“Are you ready Jimmy?” Yes, Lord! “Will you serve Me, Jimmy?” Yes, Lord. “Will you give Me all of you?” Yes, Lord. But what if I fail? I don’t know what I am doing.  I’m just me, I am nobody special. You know my faults and but you also know my heart. I can’t do this on my own. This has to be all You, Lord. “I know Jimmy … now you are ready to begin.”

Saying yes, well, that is almost the easiest part. What happens after that……OUCH. It made me realize that if it was easy, everyone would do it!  My two years as the Southeast Regional Director have been the most amazing, blessed, beautiful and at the same time, difficult two years of my personal and spiritual life. Would I trade it for anything in the world? Absolutely not. The easiest comparison for me to draw on is the last 10 years with our daughter Megan. As a father of a terminally ill child, I have been presented with tough challenges. However, my walk with the Lord has been strengthened, most notably through the stumbles. Would I trade it to have an easier lifestyle? Absolutely NOT!

warden-cain-_jimmy

In the same capacity, God’s call on my life has seen many instances of His hand being ever-present over me, my family and the ministry. I have seen desperate prayers answered on and off the field, I have watched God take over and carry me through the fire over and over again. I have praised Him in the midst of the storm and fell to my knees when I was too weak to stand. I have had times that I felt completely unqualified and unworthy to take such a role. I went from doing a secular job I knew very well to a path where I knew less than I thought I did. That has been a huge challenge for me. The Lord has shown me several things, the most important of which was fully surrendering to Him and allowing Him to work in and through me. He was there to remind me that His grace is sufficient and in my weakness, He is strong. Despite my shortcomings, He still wants to use me! He has given me the “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

I can honestly say it amazes me that God has allowed this simple Georgia man, who still has so much to learn, to be a part of something so Kingdom-minded as the Saints Prison Ministry. My Pastor preached recently about being “Much More.” He said “If God sent His Son to die for us only to save us and that’s it, then He would have just taken us home as soon as we got saved. But instead He has so much more for us.” I am so thankful that I answered the call to my “Much More” as the Southeast Regional Director of the Saints Prison Ministry.

A Waste of Time?

By Rodney Stewart, Missionary-Athlete, North GA Saints softball

One of my teammates recently sent me an article entitled, Prison Ministry: A Waste of Time, Right?   It is a sentiment we have heard often as a ministry, and one I believe that all those in the Saints Prison Ministry’s family need to consider and have firmly answered in our own hearts and minds, so we can be ready to give an answer to those that would challenge the validity and necessity of our ministry.

As he set out to disprove that question, the article contained the author’s observations on prisoners working the system, using ministries like ours for short term benefits and tossing their Bibles as soon as their time is up.   My first thought was, this is no different than how many people treat the church and God Himself. Instead of “Jailhouse Religion” they have “Crisis Religion”. Every time they find themselves in the midst of a health, relationship, financial or any other crisis you can think of, they run to the church and/or God. Then as soon as the crisis is over, they are nowhere to be found. Because of this, do we ask “is church and God worth it?”

We can’t be so naive (and I don’t think we are) to believe that every inmate we share truth with will respond to that truth in the right manner. As I have said many times before and early on in my time with the Saints, all we are responsible for is to be obedient to do what God has called us to do – to share His truth and then leave the results up to Him.

So, I challenge all of us (myself included) that if we ever start to question if our ministry is worth it, that we stop and understand that our service in this ministry is as much, maybe more, about our obedience to go and serve/minister as it is about what happens with the inmates. With that in mind our answer to the question posed by this article should always be an unequivocal NO!

Inmate Letters_Fall 2016

I just received your letter today and I am so thankful for your presence in my life.  Your birthday card and well-wishes made my heart full of joy.  Thank you so much for what your ministry does for prisoners.  I especially enjoyed reading The New Creation and the word search you included.  May God bless your hearts and those of your ministry’s volunteers.

Luis R., High Desert SP, California

I pray that this letter reaches you all in health and good spirits.  And that our Lord is with you always!  The reason I am writing this letter is to give you thanks.  I thank you because every year for the last eight years I have gotten a birthday card from you – and every year it brings a smile to my face!  It lets me know that someone out there remembers me.  If no one else ever sends me a card, I know without a doubt that I’ll get one from you.  So once again I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a beacon of light the week of my birthday each year.

Quintant E., SCI Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I would like to thank your basketball team for taking time out of their lives to come to North Central Camp and spend time with us.  The game was a blast, even though you guys stomped us, but the halftime was a special one.  The story that “Q” shared with us really spoke to me because it was real talk, straight from his heart.  Then when Kyle took the mic, I felt like I was the only one in the gym and he was speaking directly to me!  I wasn’t even going to play in this game but something kept pushing me to go to the gym and get in the game.  Now I know it was our God that wanted me to go and shake hands with some mighty fine men!  Keep up the good work and God bless you all.

Justin M., North Central CI, Ohio

I got it in my heart to write to you and just say thank you for your visit.  I really had a wonderful time playing softball but I had an even better time just talking and hearing your stories.  All of the guys that came that day will forever have an impact in my life.  I can’t thank you enough for all the love and compassion that emitted from each of you.  I can’t express how much of a class act you were.  I hope and pray God continues to use each and every one of you and I know I will see you in heaven one day!

Joe S., MacDougall CI, South Carolina

I so appreciated the New Creation letter you sent me, especially the article called, “O God, please don’t let Jesus come today”.  I cannot even come close to expressing my gratitude.  You folks are definitely doing God’s will with the dedication that you are putting towards reaching out to prisons.  Whether you know it or not, you have inspired the brothers here at Chillicothe to reconsider their walk of faith, or even if they have one.  It was especially wonderful to see black men doing something so positive (Ed. note: he is referencing the SPM basketball team that visited last March).  Where I’m from all we get credit for is stabbings, stealing, and running out on our babies – so please keep inspiring people and speaking the Word with your testimonies and talents!

Yohnus C., Chillicothe CI, Ohio

Inmate Artwork

manuel-r-kern-valley-sp-californiaManuel R., Kern Valley SP, California

richard-r-rogers-sp-georgiaRichard R., Rogers SP, Georgia

milton-m-dooly-sp-georgiaMilton M., Dooly SP, Georgia

 

2016 Crusade Update

2016 Crusade Schedule Update
March 3-6         NJ Saints Basketball             Ohio                   116 decisions/925 Gospels distributed
March 9-13       Ministry-wide Softball         Central FL            31 decisions/1,189 Gospels
April 13-17        CCOC (New Jersey)              South Carolina    33 decisions/510 Gospels distributed
June 2-5             CCMC                                    Western PA          31 decisions/765 Gospels distributed
July 6-10            PA Saints Softball                NY – Adirondack  94 decisions/585 Gospels distributed
August 16-21    NJ Saints Softball                Wisconsin             108 decisions/1,095 Gospels
Sept. 23-25      VA Saints Softball                 PA/MD                   26 decisions/170 Gospels distributed
Oct. 5-9            NE Region Softball               West Virginia
Oct. 5-9            SE Region Softball                South Carolina

Announcements

All the news, scores, and highlights can be found by Liking our page on Facebook!

Saints Prison Ministry Basketball team is gearing up for 2019 season!  We’ve had the first meeting of the year but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the fun!  The season begins right after the new year but practices are starting now.  Come out and join the most exciting way possible to share the love of Christ – playing a game you love!

But time is fleeting and paperwork has to be done, so contact Jimmy Cochran now at 770-286-2812 for more information

All the news, scores, and highlights can be found by Liking our page on Facebook!

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The Saints Golf Classic was a hit in three different locations in 2018 !

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