by Cory Blankenship, Recreation Supervisor at Mansfield CI, Ohio
The Saints softball team visited this facility in August of this year, but this was not the first time I have worked with The Saints. I was at Marion Correctional Institution when The Saints came in for a visit back in 2012. At that point in my life I believed that there was a God but really didn’t know much about Jesus and thought I was a good person and going to get into heaven.
I was escorting the team out of the prison at the end of that day and one of the team members handed me one of the “special books” they gave out, which was a Sports New Testament, and said “this is for you.” I had no idea what it was. When you guys travel into prisons, sharing with staff is so important. What I remember is he did it so non-aggressive and nonchalantly. The seed was planted.
I ended up going to a local church through my boy being invited to VBS in 2012. I accepted Christ into my life after about two years of going to church in 2014.
While at work, I kept that book that The Saints gave me but never even opened it. I moved offices and as I was going through my stuff, I grabbed that book to look at it. At first, I thought it was a book about athletes. To my surprise, it was the New Testament. That was actually my first Bible that I have ever had in my entire life and was given to me by The Saints! I still have it to this day and it sits close to me on my desk while at work.
I feel that it was given to me so I could be equipped at work. What are the chances of an outside team handing me a Bible, me ending up in church and then accepting Christ into my life….but that’s not all.
I thought it was crazy that your teams travel around, taking personal time and using donated money to come into prisons and share the Gospel with guys. It weighed heavy on my conscious that they are willing to travel out of state to share the gospel. Your ministry team motivated me to venture into a prison – as a volunteer – and share the Gospel. I recently joined a Christian Prison ministry group called H.I.M. – Hogs in Ministry, a motorcycle ministry out of Michigan. I just went in on 9-6-2019 to another prison and boy did it feel spiritually awesome!
Thank you, guys, for having the courage to listen to God and let him lead you, especially into prison. A majority of inmates will never step foot in a church, so that may be the only time they hear the Gospel shared. Thank you for the sacrifice that the guys, and those who send them, have made and continue to make.