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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.

 

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!

 

Why Am I Doing This?

By Michael Vassalotti, Jericho Discipleship Team Leader

While I am thankful and feel honored at the privilege of being asked to write a piece for The Insider, this made me do some heart searching. While I do love teaching, and I love these brothers God has called me to, there are some Tuesdays, when honestly I might rather feel like staying home and playing guitar. Inevitably, when I do have one of those days, that ends up being the time when Holy Spirit shows up in the Bible study time with renewed vigor and fire. Then, I am more glad than ever that Father God did not let me quit during that first year (2013?), when I told the ministry that God could find someone else to do the job.

Our group meets in Facility 2 of the Southwoods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ. We meet every Tuesday at 7:30. Though I’ve never been told the details “point-blank”, it seemed to me that Facility 2 might be the sex offenders and mental health facility. If this is true, it would suit me just fine. In my thought life, well before I reached 56 years of age, I could’ve been classified as a mental breakdown survivor and a sex offender. (The Lord sees every thought and knows and covers all my sins).

Not long after becoming born-again in 1984, doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. They prescribed some stabilizing meds that made me function slightly better than a zombie. I could not pray or read the Bible without falling asleep. Within the next 5 years or so, and 3 different prayer-group attempts to break from the meds, I finally received healing from the bipolar delusions and manic episodes. Hooray! No more zombie drugs…now I’m just moody! As a result, I have a closer connection to people who have struggled with anxiety and issues of the mind/will and emotions.

These guys in F2 are truly my brothers. As I write this, I just got back from our meeting. James, a new man to the group, was there tonight. He is a cancer survivor, having completed an intense chemo regiment.  He spoke to me before the class began today and said He wanted to rededicate his life to the Lord. The Lord led me to let him share a little of his testimony before we got into our Bible lesson. All the guys and I listened very intently as he shared about his early faith, death of his mom, his anger at God, and car crash, turning to alcohol, then his ending up in prison. We laid hands on our new brother and prayed as a group that his cancer is gone and doesn’t come back.

Vince is always there. He could easily teach the class…perhaps better than I! Yet he humbly listens and participates in a way that enhances the experience for all of us. He has a Barnabas type of a spirit of encouragement and I feel blessed to see him each time I go.

Prison is not a pretty place. Do I love to go there? Sometimes I do. Other times, I feel tired. When I feel most tired, is when the most special meetings take place, like tonight. Ultimately, I rejoice to do what Jesus wants because therein is the life of blessing, the life of greatest rewards and the life of no regrets.  In His presence, and with wet eyes, I would tell the Lord I don’t deserve the well-done good and faithful servant greeting, except He already said the weak and the foolish ones are the ones He chooses to do His work!

I’m thankful for that old expression someone told me long ago, “He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called ones.”  Thank you Jesus, I have been blessed to hear your call of Love!

 

This entry was tagged as

Reputation Matters

Reputation Matters

By Frank Zeidler, Jr., SPM DirectorFrank_TBN

 Anyone that has ministered alongside me or worked on our staff knows that I am fiercely protective of the reputation of the Saints Prison Ministry.  Everything that we do as a ministry is done for a reason, and more often than not that reason can be traced back to reputation.

I recently fielded a call from a Chaplain in Kentucky unlike any other call in which I had ever engaged.  He opened the conversation by suggesting that if he had been born an explorer instead of a prison chaplain he would search high and low for three things: Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, and the Saints Prison Ministry.   Obviously intrigued, I asked how we found ourselves among such legendary company.  His answer astounded me:

I have been a chaplain at four different federal institutions, in four different regions, prior to this assignment.  At every prison in which I served, I heard of this ministry that I had ‘just missed’ – the Saints Prison Ministry. I would ask staff about who they found effective or easy to work with and the answer was the same ministry each time.  The legend of this softball team was the same at every stop – “they don’t come in with the attitude that these godless heathens need what we’re selling.  Instead they come to play a ballgame, have some conversations, share a personal message, and interact with the men because they genuinely care.”

He then ended his explanation with this comment – “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were describing Christians!” 

He shared that his current warden is opposed to any outside teams coming into the prison, so he has no intention of trying to have us visit but he called because he finally had to track down this ministry just to see if they were for real!  He went on to share that he had been told the facility would be getting a new warden this year, and if the situation changed he would like to try to work something out for the fall.

I have shared stories – both personally and in my writings – of chaplains, staff, and inmates thanking us for showing we care, making an impact, or simply being so professional.  I’ve gone on endlessly about the need to protect our reputation because of the doors it can open or close along the way.  But this chaplain validated every word I have ever spoken or written; his first-hand account of our reputation traveling around the country demonstrates that we are being watched and we are being talked about at many levels.

God has done amazing things through this ministry and the number of lives He has touched are almost innumerable.  Perhaps one of the greatest things He has done is to call men and women to serve on the front lines who genuinely understand that they represent Him first, the ministry second, their teammates, our supporters, their own families, and finally, themselves last.  Without the quality of personnel that God has called, this ministry’s reputation would not be what it is.

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach at UCLA, wisely said “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, your reputation is merely what others think you are”.  While I don’t disagree with Coach Wooden, I suggest that our reputation of excellence has traveled beyond the 34 states in which we have ministered in large part because of the character of the men and women involved.  To them I say “Thank you” – not for heeding my admonitions to protect our reputation, but for answering the call of the One on whom that reputation has been built!

 

Announcements

 

We are proud to announce that Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has renewed our membership for the 22nd consecutive year! The Saints Prison Ministry has also been awarded the Gold Seal of Transparency by Guidestar!

Click here for more information

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Softball crusade season is here!

June 20-24: Softball Crusade to Indiana
July 10-14: Softball Crusade to Colorado
August 8-11: Softball Crusade to New England
August 13-18: Softball Crusade to Michigan
August 14-17: Softball Crusade to Western NY