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)

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