The Man Out West

By Frank Zeidler, Jr, Executive Director

In 2003, the Saints Prison Ministry took a softball team to Colorado for a crusade and came home with a soccer team! No, we didnt convert softball players into men in shorts running 7-8 miles in a 90-minute game. God had a MUCH better plan than that!

The whole story would take more space than this column allows, so here are the Cliff notes: Dale Glading and Bob Hellyer attend a meeting while in Colorado Springs; they meet a young man named Daryll Bryant at the meeting; Daryll is enamored with the idea of athletic prison ministry and volunteers his father to get involved (nice guy!); John Bryant has a conversation with Dale; voila! soccer team.

Yes, I rushed through that – but only to get to past the history and talk about the man. A retired Philadelphia police officer, John was running a retail soccer store when the Saints met him. As Daryll expected, he was instantly in love with the idea of marrying his passion for soccer with his desire to serve Jesus. So much so that he and his two sons Daryll and his brother Dennis made a trip to New Jersey to see what this was all about. A couple days absorbing information in the office and a Saturday visit to the Federal prison complex at Allenwood were all John needed to take the plunge.

Once back in Colorado John was left to figure out the nuances of running a ministry soccer team and learn the Colorado DOC at the same time. Nevertheless, he proved up to the challenge and in short order the Saints had a Colorado branch, playing soccer year round!

To Johns credit, he never assumed he had all the answers. His background included work in service industries and retail, in addition to his time on the force, so he certainly had the ability to figure things out. But when informed that some close friends of the ministry were in Colorado Bruce McDonald and Brent Fuqua among them he was always open to input from long-time ministry veterans.

Some of you met John at the Saints annual celebration banquets and heard the passion in his voice when he spoke about the work in Colorado. The men who played for him, and those of us who were with him at Allenwood years ago, certainly saw the depth of his soccer knowledge. But that all paled in comparison to what matters most to John introducing men in prison to his Lord and Savior.

In recent years, John and his wife Kate have dealt with serious physical challenges and significant family matters; yet these things never became an excuse to skip a month, as a team or personally. If a man in the Colorado prison system has not heard that Jesus loves them, it was not on John Bryants watch!

On June 23rd, John took the Colorado soccer team into prison for the final time; after 15 years of impacting men behind bars for Jesus he has decided to retire from this ministry. He takes with him many memories, and leaves behind many accomplishments but none as great as the thousands of men that met Jesus for the first time because of his dedication and commitment. As with many other situations in life, we wont realize everything John brought to this ministry until hes gone but his heart for the lost is going to be very hard to replicate.

Thank you, John there will be a very heavy crown adorned with jewels and hundreds of grateful men waiting for you in glory!

Announcements

Covid-19 takes a backseat

As a ministry called to introduce inmates to Jesus Christ,  the current culture dictates that we are ministering to a predominantly minority population.   It is important that we recognize this, even as we acknowledge that the Good News of Jesus Christ’s atoning work is free to all.

Even as protests appear to be waning in some areas, it is escalating in others.  The issue of racism in America is as relevant and important today as it was the day George Floyd was heinously murdered on the streets of Minneapolis.

It has become expedient that I address the racial climate of today, and express what we believe as regards to racism in America  and our response as believers.  To that end, I invite you to click on the link below:

Open Letter from the Executive Director

Serving Him gladly,

 

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