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Jail Ministry Update – February 2020

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Dear Friends,

           During the busy month of February, I have on multiple occasions been challenged by acts of love and service shown by other people. This week, a Cameroonian detainee, “BW,” who is a regular in the Bible studies, sent me a request form asking for a French Bible for a man from Congo who had just arrived at the jail. BW filled out the form because this new fellow really doesn’t speak any English. I was deeply impressed by this, because French speakers (Francophones) in Cameroon continue to viciously and unjustly persecute the English speaking (Anglophone) minority BW belongs to and BW has suffered great losses amongst his own family. However, BW has not let that fill him with any animosity towards a French speaker in need. I was reminded of Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan, and how Jesus’ command to show love causes us to see a person in need, rather than a stranger, or someone divided from us by culture, ethnicity, etc.

            A few weeks ago, I encountered inmate, “AW,” in the jail hall as he was toting around a pressure washer. Before he was transferred to prison, AW was an inmate worker in our jail, so he had the responsibility to do some cleaning and kitchen duties around the jail. When I said hi, he gave me a big smile and started to tell me his story: He told me that, “I hated pressure washing in the small rooms because it makes it like a sauna and I’d start sweating like crazy. But the Lord got ahold of me and reminded me that I’m doing this for Him. It’s not for me or the jail, or anybody else, it’s for Him – and that changes everything.” Of course, I heartily said “Amen!” and I immediately thought of Colossians 3:17. I was amazed.

             I was also challenged by a pastor who was willing to travel a long distance to visit an inmate who is very ungrateful and belligerent, an inmate the corrections officers call “a hopeless case” (among other things). This pastor’s gracious spirit has had a profound impact on my perspective.

            During the Thursday Bible study, I discussed God’s valentine to us, that is, God sent us His own Son (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10). The original St. Valentine sent letters of encouragement to his congregation as he languished in a Roman prison. In that spirit, I believe that a true valentine shows sacrificial love and meets a real need. The best gifts demonstrate this: whether it is a sacrifice of resources, time, creativity, etc. However, any gift pales in comparison to God’s ultimate valentine. In His amazing grace and love, God met our greatest need of all, the need for a Savior. How will we respond to God’s valentine? This is the big question. The Lord challenges us to “pay it forward” by sharing Christ’s love with others (1 John 4:11).

             This year, the Chaplain Support Team and I are dramatically reworking the Annual Golf Event to boost awareness of the Jail Ministry in Geauga Co. The Golf Event will be held at Fowler’s Mills Golf Course on Monday, June 8th. We are inviting churches and businesses to put together foursomes for the scramble and we are inviting churches and businesses to sponsor holes at the course. Please pray for us as we make plans, try to find sponsors, and most importantly, seek God’s wisdom. If you are interested in finding out more or want to obtain tickets, just zip me a text or e-mail.

Prayer Requests

1. Pray that men and women in the jail would give their lives to Christ. Pray that God would soften hearts to receive His Word with joy and that He would spiritually protect those that have committed their lives to Christ. Also, Please pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with corrections officers and other staff and opportunities to share the love of Christ with them.

2. Please pray for the continued success of the RU program. Pray that God would have victory in the lives of those who struggle with addictions and that God would protect them from temptation and against spiritual attack, especially following their release.

3. Please pray for God’s spiritual protection over those who volunteer in the jail.

4. Please pray for the Golf Outing and God’s wisdom and provision for this exciting event.

           God is working powerfully through your prayers and partnership in this ministry!

In Christ,

Chaplain Ethan

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“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)–