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.

1 comment:

mark said...

Ed Bateman was a good man..