Thursday, December 24, 2009

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" which means."God with us." Matt.1:23 NIV

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him IMMANUEL. Isa.7:14 NIV

Christmas was a special time of the year in my younger life. Decorating the tree was always a fun time. The tree used then was a skinny tree, you could see right through it. They had few branches and the limbs had a small amount of needles on them. Most of the time they would be dry and the needles would fall on the floor. The first thing we would do is get a bucket full of sand and use it for a tree stand. The trunk of the trees were small so it was easy to stick in the sand.

Next was decorating the tree. We would pop some popcorn and get a darning needle and some heavy thread so we could string the pop corn and cranberries and place it on the tree. It was generally long enough to circle the tree five or six times. Then we would make a paper chain out of 8" X 1" strips of colored paper, or sometimes we used leftover wall paper with flowers on it, and placed it on the tree. Mom had some glass balls and it seemed like one would get dropped and it would break. We always had icicles and most of the time we would put too many on. We didn't have lights when I was young. We had no electricity. When we finally got electricity mom got some lights that looked like a small candle. They had a small ball which had a bulb in it and a small candle filled with liquid on top of the ball. When they were turned on the liquid would get hot and bubbles would rise in them.

The week before Christmas was the longest week of the year because presents started showing up under the tree and we tried to guess whose they were and what was in them. Presents are good because they reminds us of what the Father gave us.

Midnight Mass was a BIG thing. Mom would make us go to bed early. She would say "you will be tired for midnight mass and I want you to stay awake". So we would go to bed but wouldn't go to sleep until about a hour before time to get ready and go. We had three churches that were 10 miles from us, so we would have to choose which one we would go to. So when it was time to go mom would start trying to get us up and we were sleepy and the bed felt so good. Our room had no heat, sometimes snow would sift in through the north window, and the floor was cold but we finally got up. On the way to church we would fall to sleep again so mom would use a strong word to get us in church. We would fight off sleep during mass but finally when the smell of incense came we would know it was about over. There was something special about midnight mass. It was the same people that met there on Sunday but I think it was because it was night time, we were all together as a family, the dark shut out the world and we were centered on the Lord's birthday. IMMANUEL, God with us. He was truly with us.

When we got home we would ask mom if we could open one present. Most of the time she would let us open a small one then she would say get to bed so Santa can bring some presents.

The Father gave us the ultimate present, His son. "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John.3:16 NIV He gave us an example that we should love, and give the love, that He gave us. But in John,1:11 "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him". The word receive means to take, you have to take a gift to have received it. I'm afraid that nowadays we are always looking for another present, thinking it will fulfill our needs, but it never will. This Christmas season, if you have not taken the gift from the Father, I would ask you to consider doing just that. THE GIFT IS JESUS.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


New Jail
Ground breaking and old jail in background

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Lk.4:18-19 NIV

After twenty years of planning the construction of a new detention center in our county we opened a new center that has offices for the sheriff and his deputies, a control center for the dispatchers and guards, plus a kitchen and laundry. This facility has 65 beds and has no bars but has 8 lock down cells that holds two men each. We house prisoners from Kansas City, Wichita and surrounding counties.

With the new facility things changed as to how we had Bible study and getting to take men out for revivals and baptisms. Thursday night was Bible study night. Some nights I would have to have two or three classes because the booking room where we met wouldn't hold them. Then we would have to keep some of them separated for various reasons. It became quite a challenge when I was used to ministering to four to eight, and now a possible sixty five. Most of the time Bible study would have twenty or more. Then there were times that inmates would put in a request for a one on one.
These are some of the things that happened at the new facility.

The first year there were four men that were serious about seeking the Lord. I had a twelve lesson video series that is great but I had no way to play them. So I went to the sheriff and told him I would like to show this series to four men. He said if you trust them you can take the men to the deputy's office and use their T.V. and VCR. That meant I would have to take them out of security. The first night I was real nervous. They were all from Kansas City and I hadn't told them that we were going to leave security, I just told them when the time came. They came to the booking room as usual and I told them to follow me. When I opened the front security door they could not believe it. One man who had been locked up for several months said, as he looked out the windows in the lobby, "there's a tree!". He hadn't seen one for a long time. We went through the teaching and they proved to be trust worthy. One of the men really blessed me. He called his girl friend and told her to buy a television with a VCR in it and bring it when she came to visit. That next week Larry gave me a new TV to use at Bible study. That way we could have our class in the Bible study room. That was ten years ago. I left it with the man that took over the Bible study when I quit.

One night I was having Bible study and after it was over I was leaving to go home. As I was shutting the door one of the inmates hollered at me and said "here is your knife. I found it on the floor". I had forgotten to take my pocket knife out of my pocket! Not all prisoner are bad, he could have got me in big trouble.

There was a inmate named Matt he was from Kansas City. He had a long list of charges on his record sheets. He said he was a Christian. He attended Bible study every week faithfully and he knew his Bible fairly good. His family tried to get him to go to some program but it didn't work out. I work with a program called Teen Challenge. He said he was interested in the program. His family made arrangements for him to go when he was released and he agreed to go. He was released and the day he was supposed to go he changed his mind and went to a crack house in down town Kansas City. About a week later his mom called and told me what he had done. I asked her if there was any way I could talk with him and she gave me a telephone number. So I called it and he answered the phone, he said he was not interested in going to T. C.

That next day a young pastor that went with me to the county jail for several years was having meetings at a local church. So I went to hear him and see what he had to say. He was speaking on II Kings 6 and 7 where Israel was being attacked by Aram and there was a famine in the land.

Elijah, the Prophet told the King of Israel basically that 'tomorrow things will be different'. I heard the Lord tell me that 'about this time tomorrow things will be different', and for me to claim that for Matthew. The next morning Matt's mother called me and told me that Matt called her at 3 a.m. and asked her to come get him. When she got there he was sitting out on the curb crying and he told her he wanted to go to Teen Challenge. He went to T.C. in San Antonio and was the Praise and Worship leader at the Center. They were invited to appear on PTL TV and sing and give their testimonies. No one, not even his parents, knew he could sing until they saw the program. After graduation from the Center he got married, has a family and was doing well the last we heard.
Critics say inmates get 'jail house religion' just to get out, and that is so with some. But I have heard that at a Billy Graham crusade, six months after people go forward and make a profession of faith only 5% are still walking with the Lord. It is about the same in jail.

I could write a book on things that has happened at Bible study at the jail.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


This cross was made and given to me by a friend.
It is made of bars from the 'old' jail which operated from 1916 to 1997


1973 was the first time for me to be locked behind bars. I had 'visited' the booking room when I was in high school by request of the sheriff for speeding around the square at Delphos. He lectured us and let us go. This time I was invited by a young pastor to go with him to our county jail to visit the inmates and have Bible study. Our jail was small. The first door opened into an exercise area. It was a four foot wide corridor around the cells. The next door opened into a larger room with a large table where the inmates could eat and play cards This door would be locked behind us when we went in. That is where we would sit at the table to have Bible study and visit. Most of the cells were unlocked so if the inmates wanted to visit or come to Bible study they could. Some would come and visit but when Bible study started they would go back to their cell. Others would stand at their cell door and listen but most of the time after a few weeks of listening they would come and join us. A few times there would be someone that didn't want us in there and they would interrupt by turning their radio high or get some one to play cards with them.

After a year the pastor got moved so I continued to go every Thursday night. There have been several men that have gone with me. Most would go for one to six months and decide that wasn't for them. I had a neighbor that went with me for about five years. He was good, he had a heart for the prisoners and was good for me. He was a young man that had a family and he had a call on his life to be a pastor. A small country church in Oklahoma asked him to come and pastor them. He accepted the call even though he had no schooling. Today he is the pastor of a large church in Enid, Oklahoma.

Some of the things that happened while ministering at the jail: I always had a good working relationship with the Sheriff. When there was a revival in town, or some other town close by, he would let me take the prisoners that I trusted to the revival. We had several baptisms. The Sheriff also let us take them out to a swimming pool, stock tank or church baptismal. Several came to know the Lord. Some would accept Him there and some later on. After several years I still hear of someone that is away from here who had accepted the Lord at the jail and told no one. I just heard about one man that was in jail here for a DUI twenty five years ago. A man from the local AA chapter told me that he was at a regional meeting and this man was sharing his testimony and said that twenty five years ago he was at a Bible study, led by a farmer, in our county jail. He accepted the Lord in his life that night and had not taken a drink since that day. He asked the AA man to let me know this.

In the 1960's one of our local churches had a young pastor on fire for the Lord that stirred up this community. He is in Iowa now pastoring and also ministering in a prison there. Ed asked one of the prisoners there where he got saved. He told Ed in Kansas but 'you probably never heard of it'. He said 'I got saved in jail at a Bible study at the Ottawa county jail'. Ed said 'that is where the first church I pastored is and I know the farmer that has the Bible study there'.

One day a highway patrolman brought a young couple in that he arrested for having a stolen vehicle. After investigation they found out that he was the head of a gang in Wichita called the 'crips' and she was one of his prostitutes. The first night we had Bible study that he was there he stayed in his cell and never said a word. The Sheriff told me later that Jack told him not to let me come in there, that he didn't want any Bible study going on around him. The Sheriff told him that he was running the jail and I could come in anytime I wanted to. He stayed in his cell or stood at the door for about six weeks, then he started asking questions from his door. Eventually he came and sat at the table with us. A short time later he asked Jesus in his life. He started studying his Bible and reading Christian books. He was on fire for the Lord. Then about a month before he was to get out he started pulling back, not even reading his Bible, he stopped praying and eventually he didn't even come out to the Bible study the last two weeks. I thought to my self another jail house conversion "when you see a little freedom we don't need Jesus". Six month later the telephone rang and a voice said this Jack and I said Jack who? He said 'Jack from Wichita and I want to see you and the jail will not give me your address'. I told him 'I will come to town and visit you', because you never give your address out. When I got to the jail I could not believe my eyes. This guy looked like a new man, smiling as you would say, "from ear to ear". "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!" 1Cor.5:17 NIV I asked him why he pulled back the last two weeks from Bible study. He said he knew it was going to cost him something and he didn't know if he could pay the price. He knew that the gang would demand something and he didn't know what. He said when he got out he went back to the gang. He was there for three days and didn't tell them about accepting Jesus. That evening he told them that he was a Christian and he wanted out of the gang immediately. His body guard beat him up big time. He left the gang that night. He never went back and the gang has left him alone. I wish they all turned out to the good but they don't. Later he invited me to his wedding and it was awesome. A street ministry preacher married them. The gang and the street people were there right along with the church people.

This jail is old and the state of Kansas was on us all the time to make inprovements so I will share some funny thing that happend because of the age of the jail. I shared about the exercise corridor. In the evenings they would let the prisoners out in the exercise area. All they could do was walk or run as it was only four feet wide. On the outside wall there were windows covered with bars about six inches apart. In the summer they would open the windows to let air come in because we had no air conditioning. They let the prisoners have transistor radios and it was hard to get good reception in the jail because of all the iron so they would put their radio in the window. One night someone was walking by the jail and stole the radio. (That's a switch!!) Nowadays most of our prisoners are drug related charges and their girl friends, or someone else, was supplying them through the bars so we put up a fence around the jail. We had the oldest operating jail in the state of Kansas. In 1997 we moved into a new jail. (to be continued)