Click below for Winter 2015
by Frank Zeidler, Jr. Director
Not exactly measuring by the same standards as Ol’ Blue Eyes, but by our standards the athletic
seasons of October 2014-September 2015 did indeed make up a very good year!
It was a very good year by the standard that means the very most – for every door that God
opened we walked through it willingly, preached the Gospel boldly, and represented Jesus Christ passionately. Individual numbers may vacillate from year to year, but our willingness to go where He wants us to go has never wavered.
We had some hurdles, no doubt, but through it all we remain committed to the same mission our ministry was founded upon: to reach inmates with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through athletics.
We had more cancellations than normal for a variety of reasons, and we saw a policy in the Federal prison system force us to alter our method on occasion. But we have also addressed those hurdles head on, even going so far as to contact the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C. – and finding out that our name has been mentioned at the highest levels in their discussions!
For the year, we saw 1,040 men and women make professions of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior! That alone would be enough to start the celebration, wouldn’t it? Yet, there is more. We also distributed over 13,400 Gospels of John – which means that all of those who did not respond to our message are now being confronted with the truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis! We know those Gospels circulate around the prison and we know they are effective, as evidenced by the man who wrote to our offices after finding the address sticker from a Gospel of John stuck to the wall of his solitary confinement cell!
In all, more than 15,000 men and women came out to see our ministry in action and almost 10,500 stayed to hear the Word preached unapologetically. Approximately 5,700 of them turned in a response card allowing us the opportunity to follow up with them by mail.
We could go on and on about the mail we receive thanking us for the visit or the testimonials from Wardens, Recreation Directors, or Chaplains from around the country but the story isn’t about us. God has been faithful for 29 seasons to open doors and allow us – together – the privilege of representing Him to hundreds of thousands of inmates since 1987. We are humbled that you choose to partner with us, and we are proud to serve on the front lines of this spiritual battle for you, the greatest supply chain any army has ever known.
To God be the Glory!
by Katie Brucker, Missionary-Athlete, NE Lady Saints
This is my second season playing volleyball with The Saints, but last month’s trip to Edna Mahan CF in North Jersey was a different experience for me. This visit was the first time I felt comfortable in prison.
Being “comfortable in prison” may seem like a strange statement to make, but nonetheless that’s how I felt. I went into the day feeling nervous and a little anxious since it had been over a year since I visited a prison, but I just kept praying that God would use me despite myself.
I was asked to share my testimony before the Gospel was presented, so all the way there I was distracted in trying to make sure I was prepared. When we got there, I realized that this was actually the most recent prison I had visited with The Saints, and that gave me confidence. I was surprised to find out that I recognized many of the women, and they remembered me.
When it came time to share testimonies and the Gospel with the inmates, a room that was loud and noisy just moments before became absolutely silent. God answered my prayer and gave me the perfect opportunity without distraction to share the story of how Jesus changed me. What caught me off guard was how interested the women were to hear what I had to say. When I made the decision to allow God to use me even though I was afraid, God gave me the ability to have real conversations with the women after the testimony time. I had confidence to go up to a couple of them and ask them how I could pray for them. They saw the love of Christ in each member of our team, and they responded. They were so open to share with us their struggles and eagerly allowed us to pray with them.
It’s amazing how God uses his people through volleyball to minister to the least of these. The Saints Prison Ministry gives me the opportunity to show Christ to those who so desperately need Him, and has changed me in the process!
At the time you came to Michigan to spread God’s love I was a new believer, recently reborn in Christ. You encouraged me and since then my life has been devoted to living for Him and spreading His love. I have been working to spread the message to my children and grandchildren, even strangers, but it isn’t easy. Being in prison for 25 years and with no chance f parole makes it hard.I am a lifer but I have found the positive note to being locked up. I tell people I am doing “life with Christ”! Being in here with Christ is not a death sentence but a life sentence at Bible camp!
– Jaime R., Alger CF, Michigan
Just dropping you guys a few lines to let y’all know how much it means to us when y’all come play ball with us. Not just about the game – which is good – but the love y’all bring with you for each of us no matter how bad. Seeing how the Lord has changed some things in y’alls life is wonderful and makes us stronger and stronger. From all the guys here at Morgantown that believe in the Lord we want to thank y’all very much!
– Ricky N., FCI Morgantown, West Virginia
I’ve attended the last two softball games you had here and they are fun, but the fellowship with the guys on your team is outstanding. Thank you very much for reaching out to us here in prison. Very often we feel we are completely forgotten. Keep doing what you are doing because you are reaching a lot more people than you realize!
– Lacy P., Phillips SP, Georgia
I received a card from you exactly on my birthday. I wasn’t expecting any mail from anyone except my parents and my beautiful girlfriend, so your card was a real blessing in disguise. See, I not only hung your card on the board over my bed, but I also used it as an instrument to share who God truly is. The impact was far greater than you could expect! I just thought you should know that.
– Michael M., Canon City CF, Colorado
I pray that when this letter touches your hand that you will be in good health and in the Spirit of God. I really appreciate you taking the time to send me a birthday card. I must saying that hearing from you really put a smile on my face! Please keep us prisoners in your prayers, that God would open these doors for us to get out and serve Him. I’m closing this letter now but our friendship will never end!
– Anthony S., FCI Terre Haute, Indiana
by Kyle Stramara, Harrisburg District Director, Push the Rock
In 2012, in the face of more invitations for The Saints Prison Ministry’s basketball team than we could answer, Frank reached out to a local sports ministry with an idea. Since they focused on running basketball camps for youth, then the leaders can surely play the game fairly well and we could ask them to fill some dates for us. Little did he know then what God had in store for all of those involved!
My name is Kyle Stramara and I am a full-time staff member with Push The Rock, currently working from our Harrisburg District Office. At Push The Rock our vision is to be a global leader in sports ministry, impacting the world for Jesus Christ… one life at a time! Now that you know our vision, it should be no surprise to you that our partnership with The Saints Prison Ministry is one of extreme value to us.
Push The Rock began in 1997 as one basketball camp in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The organization started with the goal of using sports as a vehicle to share the love of Jesus Christ with anyone with whom we came in contact. Since then, as The Lord has led, our ministry has grown into so much more.
For a very long time our focus and target audience revolved around youth. Our summer sports camps began to grow in numbers as we partnered with local churches and began to use other sports than basketball to share the Gospel. However, we began to notice that our entire ministry was focused on children ages 4-16 and we longed for opportunity to use sports to share Christ with an older demographic.
This is where The Saints stepped in and answered our prayers to The Lord. In the winter of 2012, we were visited by The Saints Prison Ministry and challenged to get a basketball team together to play a game at SCI Dallas in Pennsylvania. Finally, an opportunity to uses sports to share our love for Jesus Christ with adults!
From the very beginning Frank Zeidler and The Saints made us feel like family. I strongly believe that the best way to teach someone something is not face to face; rather it is shoulder and shoulder. The Saints did a great job exemplifying this as they walked shoulder and shoulder with us into this new avenue of ministry. Along with willing hearts to serve, The Saints brought with them a name that has been recognized for its athletic prison ministry for over 25 years and it has been our honor to learn from the best.
We fell in love with the way The Saints do ministry and we were quickly asking for ways to grow and continue working together. Since that first game in 2012, The Saints Prison Ministry and Push The Rock have grown this partnership from playing two games that first season to a scheduled eight games in the upcoming 2016 season.
“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” -Matthew 25:36.
This verse comes to mind when I think about what The Saints embody and what they have done for us. We now have the opportunity to put this verse into action as we use the sport of basketball to share Jesus with the inmates we come across on the court. It has been such a blessing to my personal walk with Jesus and for many team members through the years. Although the focus is definitely on the inmates, we have found that the biblical mandate to build disciples is fulfilled through relationships on our basketball team as well. What a blessing it is for Push The Rock and The Saints Prison Ministry to walk side by side fulfilling God’s call to make disciples of all nations.
by Melvin K., an inmate at McCormick CI, South Carolina
I just turned 49-years-old and I’ll be here for a while, but I truly thank God for blessing me with all of you who love me and who I truly love. “Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” – thank you friends and family in Christ for remembering me in your prayers. This is the promise of God that He makes to us!
This is a hard time of year because I lost my wife on Thanksgiving Day 2000. But it is God who keeps me strong. No matter how overwhelming our problem is, we need to have no fear. You are not to let anything dismay us – for God says He will strengthen and protect us! In fact, He
promises that He will never leave us and He will hold us up and make us adequate for ANY situation. Let’s accept this great fact. Hold this verse strongly in our hearts until it sends it’s rugged courage throughout our entire life!
My prayer is that God will bless all the Saints for Thanksgiving, a blessed Christmas, and pour out His blessings on you all for the New Year 2016.