Tag Archives: News

He Just Gave Me a Book

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.

Striving to Give God Our Best

Every year we include an article in our newsletter and online to let our supporters know we have earned renewal as members of ECFA – the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. This watchdog organization regularly monitors the stewardship practices of thousands of Christian organizations, including many of the largest in the world. Renewal is earned by meeting the ECFA Seven Standards (https://www.ecfa.org/Standards.aspx) and the review is quite thorough.

We not only boast continuous membership in the organization since 1997, but throughout the year we also take advantage of many resources they offer to make the Saints Prison Ministry stronger and more effective. To that end, several our Board members recently attended an ECFA Forum on Board Governance, on their own time and in various locations, to ensure that we are doing all that we can to give God our very best efforts. Even though they are entirely volunteer, those charged with overseeing the organization do not take the responsibility lightly.

Shown here is Rev. Jim Korth attending the event in Charlotte, NC. Rev. Korth was instrumental in the formation of the ministry in 1987, has filled a few roles in the ensuing years, and recently joined the Board again after a few years serving the Lord in other capacities.

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability

We are proud to announce that ECFA has renewed our membership for the 22nd consecutive year! After a comprehensive review of our audited financial reports, our 990 tax return, and current financial statements, they found that we meet the standards for integrity, reliability, and fiscal trustworthiness.

As an organization, we have always made it a point to do things “decently and in order,” and the renewal of our membership in this highly respected watchdog organiza- tion is a testament to that philosophy.

 

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Competitive or Missional?

Short-term mission trips are common today. Whether as an evangelistic outreach or a support system for a missionary who is overwhelmed with opportunities, churches have come alongside missionaries both domestically and internationally to help fill the gap between needs and the missionary’s capacity.

But what if your talents aren’t in construction or painting? And not all of us feel gifted for VBS or street evangelism. How about something outside the box…like sports? In the past few years, four different churches have seized on the opportunity to conduct a short-term mission trip through The Saints Prison Ministry crusade schedule!

Most recently, Solid Rock Baptist Church of Berlin, NJ traveled to New York with a basketball team made up of members of the church and led by two SPM veterans. The Saints Prison Ministry handled all the details and the partnership resulted in 56 new names in the Lamb’s Book of Life! (see page 4 for more on the trip) They are already discussing a new destination for 2019 because it was such an unbelievable experience!

For more details on how your church can transform their church league team into a short-term mission trip, contact us at [email protected] Your team will never be the same!

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A Mother’s Love

Hello,

I am writing to you because I want to thank you so very much for doing what your ministry does with the inmates at SCI Frackville. My son happens to be an inmate at this facility. His name is Roger Hartstein (HR0484). Most recently, your softball team played the team at the prison which my son happens to play on. Soon after your visit there, he wrote me to tell me that someone from your staff prayed for him. You see, he is up for Parole and has seen the board 4 times and has been denied each time. Not for lack of Roger trying but for the lack of Par9le wanting to see a changed person that has just spent the last 10 years of his life behind bars. I have been trying for the last few years to get my son on the Jesus “fan” wagon. My husband and I are Christians and we want to make sure my son has his heart right with our all mighty, loving, forgiving, and faithful, God.

You have no idea how touched I was when Roger wrote me and told me that your staff prayed for him. He said “…and you know what Mom, it felt good”. My heart skipped a beat! I tell you this because, I have been praying for God to be with my son each visit to parole, to give him the words to speak, and to give him the confidence that he needed to face the board. I told Roger I was praying for him, his response was, why are you praying, you don’t pray for things like this. I said Roger, you most certainly do pray for these types of things, as the matter of fact, you should be praying each and every day. You need to speak to God on a regular basis, not just when you need something! Even I feel at times like the Lord isn’t hearing my prayer, even now I know he does. As a Christian, I am not perfect; I am broken and need God every second of the day. I know God has a plan for Roger and just because I want him home with our family, God knows what is best for Roger. So, you see, when your staff prayed for him and he said he liked it, that it felt good, I knew right then, my Father in heaven is hearing my prayers.

I just wanted to let you know that Roger looks forward to having your team visit the facility to play sports with them. I am happy that you give him something to look forward to. I personally have no idea what prison life on the inside is like. I do know that it is a very overwhelming experience for me as a mother to have to visit my son every other weekend for a few hours in such an awful place. But you guys bring life to him and others I’m sure and for that I am grateful.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate all you do!

God Bless your Ministry,

Robin Roth

P.S. Thank you for sending him birthday cards too. How super awesome!

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Light in the Darkness

by David Cogliano, Board of Trustees member and North GA Softball Missionary-athlete

The Saints Prison Ministry has visited Kentucky State Reformatory at least twice in the past – and this was my second visit personally.  It is a prison that has a very active recreation program, inviting many teams into their facility all year round – Christian or not, whether for ministry or just for a game.  One could easily reach the conclusion that with that many teams coming through the gates, the inmates don’t care who is in the other dugout.

Since the day I started with the Saints I have heard Frank, Jimmy and others repeatedly talking about the value of the ministry’s reputation.  After just a couple years with the North GA team, I began to see the truth in that position and since I joined the Board of Trustees in 2016 it has been something I have repeated often myself.  I’ve seen the reputation of the ministry open doors that seemed closed, and I have heard inmates talk about how much they like us.  But on this crusade, that “talking point” became reality in a way I never saw coming.

KSR beat us handily the last time I was there, so this crusade team was determined to make a good showing.  We gave the team all they could handle that first game, so when it came time to break for the Gospel message I felt pretty good walking around the yard handing out literature.  I approached one particular prisoner and asked if he would like a Gospel of John and a tract.  He stuck his hand out and said he would take one from the Saints but that is all.

It was an odd response – not a typical yes or “Nah, I’m all right” – so I felt compelled to follow up and ask him what he meant by that.  He proceeded to tell me how other organizations – Christian ministry organizations – “come in here, hand you a piece of literature, and leave thinking they have done something good.  All they’ve done is check off a box.  But when the Saints come here, we know they are sincere in everything because you spend time listening to our stories, pray with us, and play softball with us.  So I’ll take a Gospel from the Saints.” (Note – SPM had not been to KSR since 2014, yet this guy knew some of us and recognized who was on that trip!)

I was genuinely moved – no surprise to my teammates who know I can get emotional – and I told him how much that means to me and my teammates to hear that.  I asked him if there was anything I could pray for in his life and then hugged it out as we always do with the guys we meet.  It was a short amount of time but he could not have encouraged me more if we had spent all day together.  Simply because we choose to reflect Jesus Christ in the way we do ministry, this man now has the Gospel of John in his cell with him!

 

Announcements

The NJ Basketball team is going to begin practices in December, in preparation for the January 11, 2020 season tip-off.  If you are interested in joining the team, or know someone whose is, contact us by clicking HERE.

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The 2019 Lady Saints Keystone Crusade in PA was a great success and momentum is already building for our 2020 season!

Please continue praying for our NJ Soccer team as they continue their season through December and January.