Crusade Season 2021

In any given year, the Saints Prison Ministry conducts 8-10 crusades – but obviously 2021 hasn’t been “any” year! However, we did see open doors this summer and we walked through every one of them. Preparing for each opportunity was pressure-packed due to time constraints, yet every time the Lord delivered passionate missionary-athletes, enthusiastic inmates, and administrations that welcomed us warmly.

In April, our team answered the invitations from Central Florida – the first events since March 2020! We visited three prisons, in which we ministered to five different populations, and our team preached the Gospel to almost 400 men. We saw 23 professions of faith in Jesus Christ and handed out 737 Gospels of John!

In late June we opted to return to the very same area of Florida, based on the overwhelming response to our April visit. We returned to one of the prisons from our April trip, added three other prisons that invited us and, cumulatively, seven different populations came out to watch us play.

Although attendance was lighter than it had been previously, God still worked through our MAs to draw 10 men to a personal relationship with him. We also distributed 439 Gospels in these four prisons.

Just four weeks later we gathered our team together again, this time in the northern part of Florida. This trip involved 6 prisons, including the first-ever scheduled kickball game in Saints history! More than 450 inmates came out to interact with our team and God once again blessed our efforts. 40 men made the decision to follow Jesus and we distributed 501 Gospels of John in just four days on the ground!

Finally, in early August, we answered a call outside of Florida! Three prisons in Ohio extended an invitation to the Saints, and our ministry team in Huntington, WV was happy to answer the bell. Over a four-day weekend, 66 inmates added their names to the Lamb’s Book of Life and 443 men each took a Gospel of John back to their cell with them.

One hundred thirty-nine prisoners found freedom in the summer of 2021. More than 2,000 lonely souls can discover the peace and joy found only in the Good News of the Gospel they were handed. Don’t let anyone suggest to you the summer of 2021 was wasted by a virus!

Click here for behind the scenes photos!

 

Inside the Mind of Gibby

I Think the Bears are Winning the Super Bowl

by Tom Gibson, IL Saints Softball Coach

It’s hard not to be excited about Chicago sports nowadays. The Cubs have won 7 games in a row and are the hottest team in baseball as of this writing. The Bears have a new rookie quarterback and are opening up their season with a prime time Sunday night game. But, in reality, the Cubs are 20 games out of first place, and the Bears will no doubt still be the Bears and will be underwhelming once again. Yes, I know the White Sox are in first place and will no doubt make a deep playoff run, but most major media outlets, including this column, still don’t care about the Sox.

As a Chicago sports fan, there is always excitement… followed by expectations… followed by inevitable disappointment. It is easy to get excited about being a Missionary-Athlete, but sometimes you need to leave some of your expectations at home.

Misplaced Expectation #147 – “We beat the prison team last year; we’ll just roll over them again this year.” Ha! Year after year, visit after visit, Crusade after Crusade, missionary athletes fall for this one over and over again! You may have played well on the field or court the last time you played this prison team but that doesn’t mean anything because the prison team has been training Rocky IV style all year long. You will be stopping for dinner tonight, but it is likely only humble pie is on the menu!

Misplaced Expectation #263 – “The guy with several kids, an overloaded work schedule, and who serves on several different church committees might join our roster this year!” This isn’t a misplaced expectation as much as it is straight up delusional! We all know the guy that would be perfect for this ministry if he just wasn’t so busy. Your only option is to move on or just kidnap him.

Misplaced Expectation #679 – “Don’t worry, the connecting flight has us landing in plenty of time to catch our next flight!” Yes, I know. I have used this quarterly article to complain to the masses about Saints travel for years, but anyone who has flown to a Crusade has experienced the pit in your stomach that only a cancelled flight can cause. If you are planning on being in Orlando at 3 pm always be ready to enjoy sight-seeing in Houston instead! If you are traveling by bus or van, be prepared to spend time in places like Discount Tire, Pep Boys, Auto Zone, AAMCO Transmissions… or a corn field in the middle of nowhere Indiana!

Misplaced Expectation #972- “Surely COVID won’t cancel two seasons in a row, right?”

It has been good to have the ministry finally get some games in this summer in Georgia, Ohio, and Florida, but, for those of us in Illinois and the Northeast, it has been tough not to have any local visits. Someday we will have some normal prison visits again but it is discouraging when Disney+ has had more seasons of the Mandalorian than we have had ministry seasons the last two years.

So, Sunday night I will be on the couch with a plate of chicken wings totally convinced that the Bears will win the Super Bowl and that Cubs will make up a 20-game deficit with 23 games left to play, but that of course will be a misplaced expectation. My only hope in avoiding this will be to misplace the TV remote!

**Editor’s Note: The Cubs didn’t close the gap and finished out of the playoffs yet again. Despite a good effort, the Bears lost their opener that Sunday night. It is our fervent prayer that Gibby still hasn’t found the remote!

 

 

Inmate Letters

This is a heartfelt letter to say “Thank You” for the yearly birthday cards! It was around 2016 that you were here to play a softball game, fellowship, and share the gospel with us at Racine Correctional Institution. Though I was already saved, I signed up for the Birthday greeting. I didn’t think much of it once I mailed it but it has been a joyous blessing every June since then. I am so happy to see your card in the mail, along with your “New Creation” newsletter. It blesses my soul that you remember those in prison faithfully. I thank you again for your ministry and for your commitment and dedication. I look forward to the next time you can visit us again as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. May God bless you, your families, and your continued ministries! – Marc S., Racine CI, WI

Thank you for never forgetting about my Birthday after all these years. I truly appreciate the long term dedication your ministry has shared over the years. I wish I could be part of your ministry, but they keep giving me parole hits for no reason. Someday, I guess. But I worry my parents won’t be around by that time. Prayer, prayer, and more prayer, right? Well, keep up the great fellowshipping. – Jacob Z., SCI Forest, PA

I just want to say thanks for the birthday card and the much encouragement you’ve given to me over the years. This month makes 27 years I’ve been incarcerated and on many different occasions someone has helped lift my spirits. Rather through a talk after we played softball or letter, Bible study lessons and much more. I’m thankful and just reflecting a little on the godly love you’ve shown me and many others that have shared their faith to faith through this ministry. Times have changed, but the faithful hearts and minds are still burning in the light of God’s Word. That is a blessing richly filled in God’s Holy Spirit and why God says we can live it out from Romans 5:5. I thank you for the example you’ve shown and it’s a part of God’s plan that helped me grow from a young 19 year old to a 46 year old that is able to help others also. So please be encouraged and keep standing for God’s Word in spite of all the misleading advice that’s dividing the unsaved’s minds. The church is the light our our dark times and in our dark time. The devil has lost even if it looks like he is winning. He’s a defeated foe. God richly bless your hearts. – Lorenzo L, Apalachee CI, FL

My purpose for writing is you all surprised me exactly on my 37th birthday (August 23rd) with a birthday letter. Thank you all for the love. True story is… I was telling my roommate the day of my birthday how no one sent me an email with well wishes or nothing. Then at mail call that night, I received the love from you Saints. I’ve known for many years to be mindful of the signs from God people tend to overlook. A lot of people don’t believe until a big sign is revealed. I think the small ones are special. At this facility, no sports have been conducted. You guys got away last year in the first softball game because my second baseman called me off on a pop-up, a ball with which he dropped. My position was short stop. Good news is this facility has been Covid-free thus far (thank God). I hope you all are faring just as well. Anyhow, it was a huge blessing to have heard from you all. I felt the love and wanted to let you all know you brought joy to a soul who on his birthday, had a lack of outside love. My roommate made an excellent pizza and I made a very sweet cake. I got to phone my uncle and aunt, as well as my foster father. You all’s letter meant so much. Thank you. God bless you all continuously. – Bobby U, Nottoway CC, Burkeville, VA

Announcements

October Crusades

The fields in Florida continue to be “white unto harvest,” and the prison administrations continue to invite us at an unprecedented pace!

October 21-24, a softball team of mostly NJ and PA missionary athletes will descend on the northeast part of FL.

Join us in praying for this exciting opportunity!

Hot Topics

Due to the prison systems in the NE Region remaining closed to volunteers, we have come to the tough decision to cancel the seasons for the NJ and PA softball teams. We continue to stay in touch with our contacts in each state and hope to hear better news as we move into the Fall.