John Sage understands the importance of forgiveness

By Flori Meeks
Published 02:29 p.m., Tuesday, July 10, 2012

After his younger sister, Marilyn Sage Meagher, was slain in 1993, Sage, 64, spent years in a very dark place.

“I was a prisoner of my own rage and grief,” the Uptown-area resident said.

It was only after he was ready to forgive his sister’s attackers that he was able to heal.

Now his focus is on helping others with that journey, both the victims of violent crimes and criminal offenders who are in prison.

His nonprofit ministry, Bridges to Life, brings crime victims into prisons to work with offenders in a class setting.

The goal is to reduce prison recidivism rates, reduce the number of crime victims and enhance public safety.

And throughout the program’s lessons, assignments and discussions is a message of love and forgiveness found through God.

Sage, who was born in Houston, grew up in the River Oaks area and attended St. Thomas High School.

He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University, where he was an all-American tackle, and then returned to Houston to launch a real estate business with his father.

Living near family was a priority.

“We have a very close family, very big and very close,” said Sage, the fourth of eight siblings.

It was Meagher, 19 months younger, with whom he spent most of his years as a boy and young man.

They went to the same elementary school and college, and she attended St. Agnes High School, St. Thomas’ sister school. They shared common friends and interests, and were there for each other, Sage said.

He remembers when his sister encouraged him to date two gorgeous girls she knew, a blonde and a brunette.

He dated the blonde about six times, he recalls, and he’s still with the brunette – his wife Frances Sage – more than 40 years later.

“So, she even picked out my wife for me,” John Sage said.

The siblings remained close during their adult years.

The last time Sage saw Meagher, he was feeling a bit down. She, as usual, reached out to him with love.

“The last thing she said to me was, ‘Johnny, you’re the greatest.’ Looking back, that was a gift.”

The unthinkable

Marilyn was 43 when she was stabbed and clubbed to death in her apartment on June 30, 1993.

James Dickerson and Erica Sheppard, both 19 at the time, were convicted of capital murder for the crime. They admitted they killed her for her car. Dickerson died in prison in the late 1990s. Sheppard is on death row in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas.

For Sage, coming to grips with his sister’s violent death was a struggle.

“I couldn’t sleep. I lost 25 pounds in 60 days. It hit me real hard. It took me several years to get back to 100 percent functioning,” he said. “”Looking back, it was a spiritual journey for me that was good, but I didn’t want to get there that way.”

After extensive soul searching, reading, writing and prayer, Sage knew he was ready for a change.

He decided his choices were to forgive or to exist in a state of bitterness. He chose to forgive.

Seeds of hope

In January 1998 Sage heard about the Sycamore Tree Project, an evangelistic ministry that brings together victims of violence and imprisoned offenders.

Sage got involved as a volunteer supporting a 12-week course in Texas.

“I watched men change,” he recalled. “I saw it in the way they talked, their body language, their eyes.”

Not only was he impressed with the impact on offenders, Sage saw the program’s potential to heal victims and their loved ones. The more they got to know offenders, the easier it became for them to forgive.

“They started to see them as people, not animals.”

When Sage experienced Sycamore Tree, it was limited to one prison.

He started to envision his own program that could be brought to four or five prisons, then more.

After a summer of thought and prayer, he launched Bridges to Life.

A new journey

Sage wrote a curriculum for his new ministry and set it on its path.

“In ministry, some people till, some plant seeds, some harvest them. I think we’re rock-breakers before the soil is ever tilled.”

Bridges to Life asks participating offenders to address personal responsibility, he said. It encourages them to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive themselves for their crimes. Then, Sage said, they’re ready for life-changing spiritual decisions.

In addition to helping offenders and victims experience healing, the program can improve the atmosphere within prisons as offenders change their outlook and behavior, Sage said.

And the program makes communities safer, he said, because offenders are less likely to commit crimes when they are released.

The program Sage launched in 1998 now operates in prisons throughout Texas, in 10 other states and in Australia, South Africa and Mexico.

The ministry has more than 900 volunteers. More than 20,000 prisoners have participated in the Bridges to Life course, and about 15,000 have graduated.

Sage plans to serve 2,700 to 2,800 prisoners this year.

He also has released the program’s current book and curriculum in Spanish.

From the beginning, Sage has shown tremendous devotion to this ministry, longtime friend and program volunteer Bob Christy said.

“It’s his life. He does have a personal life, a family, but he’s 110 percent devoted to Bridges to Life,” Christy said. “It was a calling I suppose.

“He would tell you, he didn’t do it all by himself. It required volunteers, financial supporters. But he clearly was the driving and motivating force.”

Sage’s passion for the ministry is extremely evident, said Mike Lojo, a friend of Sage’s since 1961.

“He’s relentless, but also with a steady keel,” the Sugar Land resident said. “John’s just as he was when I met him as a freshman in high school, steady as he could be.”

Seeing Bridges to Life’s growth, and its impact on lives, has been a moving experience, Sage said.

“It’s gratifying and humbling to know you started on a wing and a prayer,” he said. “That kind of growth, no one can do that without God’s grace and help.”

Bridges to Life always needs additional volunteer support. For more information, visit

Flori Meeks is a freelance writer and can be reached at

Illinois Ministries Partner to Open First Bible Seminary in State Prison

Prison and jail ministry volunteers in Illinois hope to help change hearts for Jesus through a variety of programs. Photo: Tom Horton
A group of prison and jail Christian ministry volunteers from Illinois are combating the nation’s skyrocketing incarceration rates and failing prisoner release programs by launching the state’s first Bible college within a prison – hoping to be a model for the rest of the U.S.

Having witnessed the changed lives and positive impact from prisoners who have accepted Jesus Christ within several state prison systems, the volunteers from Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area are determined to stand in the gap where government cannot help, they said.

The Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary officially opened its doors at the Danville Correctional Center on March 10. The seminary offers a fully accredited two-year course, administered by The Miami International Theological Seminary, with plans to expand to a four-year degree program.

Students at the Danville center can also receive a four-year degree from the University of Illinois in conjunction with this degree. There are 36 prisoner-students currently enrolled.

The seminary was the vision of members of Koinonia House National Ministries, who pointed others to the phenomenal success of the Angola Prison Bible College established in the once violence-ridden Angola Prison (Louisiana State Penitentiary).

Once known as one of the “bloodiest prison in America,” the Angola facility is a model for change with the help of transformed lives through Bible study.

Even though the Bible college at the Danville facility was 10 years in the making, it was only two years ago that Willow Creek members Tom Horton, and his wife, Wendy, took a delegation from the Illinois Department of Corrections to the Angola Prison.

How common is it for a prison in the U.S. to have a Bible college?

“It’s not common at all,” Horton told The Christian Post. “This (Divine Hope) is actually a seminary and they teach systematic theology.”
He said the plan for graduating students was to place them in other prisons in Illinois as “inmate pastors.”

“We’re hoping to establish some churches inside the prisons,” Horton said. “We’d like some outside churches to be involved as well. Also, there is talk of making the classes available by satellite to other prisons in Illinois.”

Two other prisons in Illinois have already requested to either host the seminary via live or satellite method, he said. Other facilities have also expressed interest.

More than 1 in 100 adults are in prison or jail nationwide, according to a recent Vera Institute of Justice study done with the help of the Pew Center. Researchers say this trend has come at great cost to taxpayers. States’ corrections spending – including prisons as well as probation and parole – has nearly quadrupled over the past two decades, making it the fastest-growing budget item after Medicaid. The state prison population has grown by more than 700 percent since the 1970s.

Horton, as well as others from the ministry, believe there is an answer to the growing problem.

“Unless you change somebody’s heart you don’t change that person,” Horton explained. “When a heart is changed you have a new creature in Christ and the violence goes down and the disobedience goes down. It makes for a better environment for these inmates within the prison. It will change them not only when they are inside prison, but when they get out of prison.”

Amazingly, some prisoners with long sentences, even life terms, describe the fact that they went to jail as a blessing, considering they were able to accept Jesus once inside.

“A lot of them will tell you that ‘I’m a Christian now and I’m going to heaven. I may have a life sentence in here, but I’d rather go to heaven through prison than to hell through the streets,'” Horton said.

The recidivism rates for those that are able to leave prison are much lower for those who have become Christians while inside prison, he noted. “About 80 percent of them stay out of jail.”

Willow Creek’s Compassion and Justice Ministry leader Anne Rand said that by partnering with Koinonia House National Ministries they hope to see a growth in the Bible college program throughout the Illinois prison system. She said that although the ministry has key volunteers from Willow Creek who contribute to the effort, it is Koinonia’s initiative and not the church’s.

“We have great relationships with IDOC and the chaplains of all the programs,” Rand said. “The goal throughout the year is to be in every single prison in the state of Illinois by having revival (or church) service and promoting the idea of the importance of having follow-through. Part of the follow-through could be for that facility to engage in the context of having a Bible college.

“This first year it will be interesting to see what happens – how many prison facilities within the state of Illinois will capitalize on that and want to go beyond the revival-type of meeting and consider what is going on in Danville.”

Alex Murashko

Church members offer ex-cons a palm out

Limestone Correctional FacilityPastor John Ryberg congratulates Adam Wooten on his execution of a 13-week Financial Peace University during Limestone Correctional Facility, a state jail in easterly Limestone County. Wooten, who was jailed on charges associated to methamphetamine, select to attend in a severe pre-release module during a prison.

HARVEST, AL — When Kelvin Bryant, 45, was told that he had to attend a pre-release classes during Limestone Correctional Facility before he was expelled in June, he was angry.

“I had dual months left to get my degree,” Bryant pronounced Wednesday from his pursuit in Birmingham. “And a supervisor wouldn’t concede me to travel a 20 feet divided from where we slept to take classes? That unequivocally dissapoint me.”

Alabama prisoners who went by a imperative pre-release classes during Limestone prison. The program, that accepts about 300 prisoners during a time who are within 100 days of their recover dates, is a indication for a state.

In his case, a courses toward a certificate in horticulture he was holding by an prolongation module with Community College were interrupted by a new requirement. The amicable workman assisting Bryant with his re-entry devise helped him get a mandate finished by association so that he could finish his certificate as good as take a compulsory re-entry classes, yet Bryant was still mad.

Pastor John Ryberg, who volunteers to learn classes during Limestone jail for a re-entry program, has seen copiousness of indignant prisoners on a initial day of a new category cycle. And any time, he watches a annoy fade.

“They adore it,” Ryberg said. “They come in indignant that they were brought here from down south or that they have to take a classes, yet they finish adult amatory it. And we work with a family on a outside, too.”

Limestone Correctional FacilityDona Drake of Madison Church of Christ teaches “Christians Against Substance Abuse” recently during Limestone Correctional Facility, a state jail in easterly Limestone County. The Drakes are among internal church members who proffer in a pre and post-release programs for in Limestone Correctional Facility, a jail in East Limestone County.

Ryberg and other members of Asbury United Methodist Churchare among dozens of Christians in a area who proffer during a jail to offer classes for a new imperative pre-release program. Congregations via a state also yield support for prisoners’ families and mentoring and networking for newly expelled convicts.

Prisoners are compulsory to take re-entry classes as they enter their final 100 days of incarceration. They are not compulsory to take those related to religion, yet many select to take during slightest a few classes they know will open and tighten with prayer.

Volunteers learn GED skills, pursuit skills, substance-abuse recovery, family issues, income and business management, and more.

“Really, a state couldn’t means to compensate for this program,” pronounced Mitzi Johnson, who coordinates a pre-release module during Limestone. “I couldn’t suppose a thousands and thousands of dollars a month it would cost.”

The classes are taught by volunteers in Community Partners in Re-entry, a module instituted by Gov. Bob Riley dual years ago as he sought a approach to retreat a high rates – about 35 percent – during that Alabama’s prisoners are returned to jail within 3 years of their release.

Other programs that confederate faith and post-release mentoring into reconstruction have seen that rate dump to about 8 percent, according to total collected by Prison Fellowship Ministries, a general classification started by Chuck Colson after his Watergate-related jail judgment in a 1970s.

“Before this (program), they fundamentally got $10 and a train outing behind to a travel where they were arrested,” Ryberg pronounced final month as he met with other volunteers during Asbury to plead a programs offering by a assemblage during Limestone.

“Now after they get outward that front gate, there’s somebody waiting.”

All this is achieved with small state money, pronounced Terrance McDonnell, associate commissioner for programs for a Alabama Department of Corrections.

The churches yield their possess materials for classes, even a costs for sincerely costly programs, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

“We have always had a church concerned in prisons,” McDonnell said, referring to Bible studies and church services volunteers control in prisons. “But CPR (Community Partners in Re-entry) is removing these same people concerned in re-entry – when a church has maybe not always been so peaceful to have them come and lay subsequent to them in a bank when they get out.”

Leery of who competence lay beside her was positively one of a worries Corinne Runkle had when she and her father became concerned in a jail method during Asbury in Madison, where they are members.

“I wasn’t certain how accessible to be,” Runkle said. “I didn’t wish to be condescending, yet …”

She waves her palm and rises her eyebrows, shrugging to prove her initial arrogance that inmates were people to be feared.

“But we see them as people now, rather than things,” Runkle said.

“We impute to them as a ‘brothers in white,’ ” pronounced Philip List, who helps with biweekly ceremony services during Limestone.

It was that regard, so opposite from a haven or guess with that many of a prisoners yield any other or a military-like temperament of a jail officers, that unequivocally done a disproportion for Kelvin Bryant, who now manages a flourishing landscape business in Birmingham.

“Those pre-release classes, like Financial Peace University and small-business startup, and a horde of others, were good classes,” Bryant said. “I’ve been means to implement all these collection in sequence to remonstrate my trainer to emanate a lawn-care use and concede me to conduct it.

“Those classes helped me change since by being there, we could watch them,” he said. “They were so opposite from what we saw in a day-to-day life in a penal complement – saying these people being happy, sincere, perplexing to pass on these skills – they were night-and-day from a crew around me.”

Something like 90 percent of convicts in a U.S. have never had a supportive, dependable, amatory father figure in their lives, studies show.

Limestone Correctional FacilityMitzi Johnson, during right, who coordinates pre-release programs during Limestone Correctional Facility, confers with Dorothy Goode, partner supervisor during a state jail in easterly Limestone County.

And, yes, a classes volunteers move to a prisoners are invaluable, says Assistant Warden Dorothy Goode during Limestone, yet what is some-more critical are a examples set by a volunteers. That and their eagerness to continue to assistance prisoners once they’re released.

“If they see somebody cares about them,” Goode says, “maybe they will have a possibility to do something opposite with their life.”

For Ryberg and a other volunteers, use during Limestone becomes a approach to perform Jesus’ authority to revisit those in jail – a approach to live a Gospel, not only evangelise it.

How to help

E-mail, pre-release programs executive during Limestone Correctional Facility, to join a list of people peaceful to step adult when an invalid needs someone to unite a price to take a GED, get a birth certificate, or other simple losses of a re-entry program.

Volunteer during a jail by one of a many programs sponsored by internal congregations, including Madison Church of Christ, 556 Hughes Road, Madison, 772-3911, and Asbury United Methodist Church, 980 Hughes Road, Madison, 837-0365. Information from

Encourage your assemblage to join a network that provides drivers once a month to expostulate a vanload of children to revisit their mothers during Tutwiler Prison for Women nearby Montgomery. Information from internal coordinator

Challenge your assemblage to join a re-entry network to yield a faith home for inmates expelled to your area.

Link with John Hafner, internal Prison Fellowship Ministries volunteer, to find out about area PFM seminars and Bible studies in Limestone Correctional Facility and Decatur Work Release:

View to support statewide Angel module for children of inmates as good a inhabitant and general jail method programs.

Etowah County church works to spin prisoners into improved citizens

Etowah County Jail.jpg
GADSDEN, Ala. — Many churches in Etowah County yield jail ministries. But Rainbow Church of Christ takes it a step further, providing a 12-step module and a function method and even a transitory home for womanlike inmates when they are released.

Ray Cox, one of a program’s leaders, cites a thoroughfare in Matthew 25, commencement with hymn 34, as inspiration.

The thoroughfare starts with Jesus revelation a story of how some people will be certified to Heaven, with God observant they helped him in times of need, including visiting Him when He was in prison. They will ask when they did those things. “The King will reply, we tell you
the truth, whatever we did for one of a slightest of these brothers of mine, we did for me,'” Matthew 25:40.

This is a church’s approach of living out that parable.

Cox and Tony Cleveland, another program leader, contend jail is an ideal place to minister.

“I tell them, now God has their attention,” Cox said. “It’s an ideal time and approach to find God.”

Cleveland agreed. “They are a serf audience. They’re not going anywhere.”

Active appearance also demonstrates the inmates are focussed on reforming themselves.

The church uses curriculum from New Life Behavior Ministries, a inhabitant module by the Church of Christ.

“It’s not your standard Bible lessons in jail,” Cox said.

The curriculum touches on such topics as self-esteem, marriage, parenting skills, piece abuse, passionate obsession and more.

“It teaches them they’re something special since they’re God’s creation,” Cox said.

The 12-step program, Christians Against Substance Abuse, is during a core of a module since many of a inmates are there on drug- or alcohol-related charges.

“Courses make an impact on a inmates,” Cleveland said, and there are 40 or 50 in some classes. There are dual groups for women dual Spanish versions and several for men, to make 9 or 10 total.

And a support doesn’t end when a inmates get out of jail.

The church offers dual CASA support groups during a church, welcoming some-more than usually former inmates. There is a organisation for women during 6 p.m. Mondays and one for organisation during 6 p.m. Thursdays.

Many of a former inmates dump out of a module once they accommodate a judge’s charge of a certain series of 12-step meetings.

“Some stick with it,” Cleveland said. “Two or 3 guys, we work with an almost a day-to-day basis.”

There are some success stories.
Cleveland told of one former invalid who went on to spin an A student at Gadsden State Community College and now is posterior his grade at Jacksonville State University. “That’s what keeps we going,” Cox said, “those success stories.”

The church is means to go a step forward with women when they get out of jail by Rainbow of Hope, a transitional home where a church provides aftercare, helps them find jobs and provides other skills to assistance them get behind into multitude and keep out of jail.

“We get them in a home, get them a pursuit and supervise them,” Cleveland said.

Cox forked out that Gov. Bob Riley has pronounced a problem with re-entry is so great, a state cannot do it all. He has called on churches and eremite organizations to help. “It’s spin famous this has been a usually approach they can be rehabilitated,” Cleveland pronounced of aftercare programs.

Rainbow of Hope recently housed 9 women, with a 10th approaching a day of this interview.

The church did not have adequate income to start Rainbow of Hope, Cox said, since a guilt is high. But an profession did the horizon pro bono, and a organisation of contributors have helped make it a success. More contributions are needed, however, and a church welcomes support from a community.

Cox combined that there are about 25,000 inmates being expelled in a year. The state can take care of 1,000 of those financially. “If one church would take caring of one expelled prisoner, that problem could be solved,” Cox said.

“When you assistance a prisoner, we make them a improved citizen. In turn, we help society.”

Cox and Cleveland have seen so most success with New Life Behavior Ministries they would like for it to expand. It is recommended for training during all Texas and Florida penal comforts and

is in jails and prisons in 40 states, they said, and they see no reason that can’t occur in Alabama. “That’s a mission,” Cox said. “To get them in each penal trickery in a state.”

For more information on New Life, CASA and Rainbow of Hope, call 547-3731.

(This news was created by Melanie Jones of The Gadsden Times and distributed around The Associated Press.)

New Ministry: Women of Completion

Yolanda2.JPGMinister Yolanda Atkins Cotton, right, and members of Women of Completion give a motivational speak about life to Chapman Middle School students Friday May 21, 2010.

DECATUR, AL — Ministry: Women of Completion, assembly during my home in Decatur. Our website is
under construction.

Denomination: We come from several opposite Christian

Motto: “Taking a auspicious word of evangelism behind to the

The purpose behind this method is a prophesy God place in me
after we was expelled from jail in 1995.

My method started in prison. we myself lived a life mostly
running a streets. we sole drugs, dependent myself with squad activities, and
went by dual bad, violent relations that roughly cost me my life.

After my mom upheld divided when we was 16, we strayed away
from all her tough adore and chastisement. we went serve erroneous when my sister
and best friend, Janice Atkins Wages, was murdered. we became sour and angry,
too a indicate where we didn’t caring about holding someone’s life myself.

That opinion alone led me to live a mortal lifestyle –
with God spiritually impediment me when a military did.

God took me from a streets to gangling my life and sent me
back to a streets to gangling others’ lives.

women.JPGMinister Yolanda Atkins Cotton speak to Chapman Middle School students Friday May 21, 2010.

Emphasis: To strech a mislaid souls and let them know that
Christ Jesus died so that they could have almighty life with him. And that they
don’t’ have to sell their bodies or sell drugs or be in violent attribute or

We come from behind a walls of a church to let the
unlovable know that Jesus loves them, too.

Work: We go to opposite states, targeting a drug-infested
areas, a prostitutes and homeless.

We have worked in Georgia,
California, New York,
Chicago, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama and

Leaders: Our comparison leaders, Bishop Curtis and Valarie  Minniwether of Jackson,
Miss., and Pastor Mary Wheatley of Columbus, Ohio,
keep us in request when we are out in a streets.

Challenge: The biggest problem we faced in starting this
ministry was perplexing to get other church leaders to participate. No one wanted
to leave a pulpit to do so, not even to feed a homeless.

I solved this problem since a other women and we take out
of a possess pockets to do what God has placed in us to do.

We never attempted to request for supervision funds. We only pray
and ask God to supply us with what we need to be a blessing to someone else.

Message: we take my testimony on how he saved and altered my
life and line it adult with a loyal word of god. We take Bible tracts to leave.
We urge with people, adore on them, only to let them know that Jesus is adore and

Advice to others starting ministries: Make certain your heart
is full of love, since if we don’t have adore and calm to do a works
that Jesus did, we never will be means to strech those mislaid souls on those
streets. Just like Jesus did, we take it to a streets.

Next: going into schools and articulate to kids about gangs,
teen pregnancies, rebelliousness, hatred and God.

Books: we have explained my life’s story in “Behind the
Desert: The Making of a Christian Soldier,” and of a combining of Women of
Completion and a life stories of my sisters in conflict in “Women of War.”
Information about these and my other books is posted on a website.

By Yolanda Atkins Cotton, owner and executive of Women of Completion.

Starting a new assemblage or ministry? Send sum to, 256-532-4320.

Ultimate shun plan: Mentoring module helps others

david Battle.JPGDavid Battle, Rocket City Titans football player, pardoned ex-convict, impediment conversing module manager for a AIDS Action Coalition and, many of all, father, talks about a network that helped him get his life behind and how he’s now perplexing to assistance other guys make it from jail to a full life in freedom. HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — David Battle, a male whose shoulders are scarcely as far-reaching as his table during a Aids Action Coalition where he is a impediment counselor, has won awards and honour for his work mentoring others.

Locally he’s also famous as a challenging noseguard for a Rocket City Titans football team, where he’s famous as a personality both on and off a field.

At a heart of his mentoring work are a ex-convicts and ex-addicts he inspires to keep relocating toward rebuilding their lives.

But, Battle confides, a awards and courtesy are a small embarrassing. He does his proffer work with a newly shaped Huntsville-Madison County Community Collaborative for Re-entry for a most some-more greedy reason, he said.

“When we work with these men, we see me,” Battle said. “I think, ‘This male I’m helping, that is me. There, though for a beauty of God, go I.'”

david battle.JPGDavid Battle, series 52, and Chris White, series 44, were diversion co-captains for a Rocket City Titans. Both were famous with care awards from a team.

Breath, hope

Battle’s early life was too predictable. The son of a male who went to prison, he, like about 75 percent of a boys with a father in prison, finished adult there, too, for robberies that came out of his need for moment cocaine.

It’s his after life that pennyless that pattern, a acclimatisation he sees as zero reduction than miraculous. A policeman refusing to fire him even when a hulk of a male pounded him, attempting to dedicate self-murder by patrolman when he’d motionless he was worthless. A possibility acknowledgement by another invalid as he was entrance out of his three-day mist in a dipsomaniac tank: “As prolonged as you’ve got exhale in your body, you’ve got another chance.” A district profession who argued, notwithstanding his prolonged swat sheet, for a light sentence.

“It usually clicked,” Battle said.

Another inmate, whom Battle knew from a prior jail stay, happened by.

“We need a assembly right now,” Battle told him, referring to a liberation organisation they had both attended. “I can’t live like this.”

Bit by bit, Battle was means to build his possess network of support so that when he got out, he returned to school, got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He stayed fit and was means to lapse to a diversion he’d desired as a child when a Titans formed. And he knew that partial of his devise for staying giveaway would be assisting other people yield out of a hole of obsession and conviction.

“What we have, we wish to give away,” Battle said. “I found out that if you’ve got a possibility to assistance someone, assistance them. You’ve got a shortcoming to a world.”


One of a ways that Battle helps people perplexing to build a life after being expelled from jail is by mentoring with a GreenDream Reintegration Program of a Huntsville-Madison County Community Collaborative for Re-entry.

Such programs are essential to obscure a recidivism rate, a rate during that people who have been in jail finish adult returning there.

“I trust a usually approach we as a multitude are going to revoke recidivism is to do some-more with offenders once they are expelled from prison,” pronounced Limestone Correction Facility Warden Billy Mitchem, commenting on Battle’s work and on a re-entry program. “So many times we pronounce with offenders on their approach out as they are being released, and they are truly frank when they tell me they will not lapse to prison. But too many times they are behind within months since they went behind to doing a same things with a same people that they were concerned with when they were sealed adult to start with.

“We desperately need to mangle that pattern,” Mitchem said. “I strongly support all of a organisation and women who coach these people while they are transitioning behind into society.”

But violation that settlement requires a long-term joining to assistance people learn to trust in themselves again and keep going notwithstanding set-backs.

Battle keeps a minute in a thick record to uncover other ex-cons when they get slapped in a face with something. Four years after he was postulated a atonement that backed his voting rights, he was told that his name was about to be purged from a county voting rolls.

“I tell them: Sometimes we have to do more, even when it’s not your fault,” Battle said, describing how he had to take time off work to go to a county bureau to uncover them his pardon. “There is still some-more compulsory of you.”

reggie boswell.JPGReggie Boswell, who owns Bowell’s Residential Carpet and Furniture Cleaning, checks his runner cleaner in a behind of his pick-up lorry before work. Boswell was in a initial category of mentors to connoisseur from a new GreenTeam training to assistance re-integrate former prisoners into a community.

While Battle and other formerly jailed people, such as Reggie Boswell, can be quite absolute as mentors, people from each travel of life are needed, pronounced a Rev. Carolyn Lucas, a late U.S. Army agreement dilettante who is a lead coordinator for GreenDream.

“They get expelled with one fit of garments and $10 in their pocket,” Lucas said. “If they don’t have a family, where are they going to go? What are they going to do?”

Help, hope

The GreenDream organisation starts operative with prisoners before they are released, assisting them find a network of assisting hands in a community. Lucas’ list of organizations concerned includes 25 private, open and church organizations.

But a key, she said, is a long-term mentoring. And most of a pivotal to a mentoring is creation certain mentors are trained, guided and upheld in their work. Not everybody wants to be helped, they’re told. And there’s a disproportion between being a coach and being used by someone.

The GreenDream training module was grown in conference with Dr. Verna Chapman-Lewis, a clergyman with knowledge operative with invalid and expelled populations.

“We wish to travel with them all a approach to get them reintegrated,” Lucas said. “We don’t need to leave them out there infirm and hopeless. If we let down a barriers and work together, we can do this.”

Aiding, aiding re-integration

Adult mentors from each travel of life are invited to proffer with a Huntsville-Madison County Community Collaboration for Re-entry. Mentors are lerned and supported. They determine to accommodate with mentees during slightest 3 times a month for dual years. The module accepts as clients usually those who had been convicted of non-violent crimes.

Information: Carolyn Lucas, lead coordinator, 256-859-2740,

Chuck Colson’s vision, bequest built in prison

Chuck Colson.JPGChuck Colson, owner of Prison Fellowship Ministries, speaks in 2009 in downtown Mobile, Ala., for countless men’s eremite groups from Mobile and Baldwin counties. Colson’s deliberate his many critical method to and on interest of people in prison, writes columnist Terry Mattingly. (Press-Register, Mike Kittrell)

“On Religion”

Column by Terry Mattingly

It wasn’t a standard Bible content for an Easter sermon, though a reverend knew what this assemblage indispensable to hear.

Never forget, he said, what Jesus admitted in his initial sermon: “The Spirit of a Lord is on me, since he has anointed me to evangelise good news to a poor. He has sent me to broadcast leisure for a prisoners and liberation of steer for a blind, to recover a oppressed.“

This isn’t a oration that many believers hear on Easter, though it’s a one that prisoners need to hear, pronounced Chuck Colson behind in 1992, confronting a tiny chapel packaged with group during a sovereign jail nearby Denver.

I initial wrote about this use for Scripps Howard in a mainstay days after a service. This was also a oration a former Watergate confederate kept priesthood to flocks behind bars during a decades between his possess stay in Alabama’s Maxwell Prison in 1974 and his genocide on Apr 21, 2012, during a age of 80.

Anyone who wants to know what altered Colson from President Richard Nixon’s devoted “hatchet man” into one of a age’s best-known Christian apologists needs to know this sermon.

You see, Colson told prisoners opposite America and around a world, it was radical to broadcast “freedom for a prisoners” during a Roman Empire. And today? Anyone who preaches this summary “in one of those good churches downtown“ will get a same icy response that Jesus did.

“The abounding and absolute people,” he said, with a thespian pause, will “run we out of town.”

Never forget, shouted a former Marine, that Jesus died as a prisoner. Was there anyone in a room who had ever been strip-searched, beaten and mocked? Did anyone know what it felt like to have a authorised authorities use flesh in an try to wrench a guilty defence — to a obtuse offense, of march — out of a unfortunate prisoner?

“Has anything like that,” he asked, with a meaningful smile, “ever happened to any of you?“

“Amen,” pronounced a prisoners. Some laughed, while others stared during a floor. Many waved clenched fists in a atmosphere to titillate a reverend to keep going.

Colson kept going.

Was there anyone in a chapel who had been tricked by a friend? Perhaps a crony even incited around and supposing justification to a state? Was there anyone benefaction who had been convicted of deceptive crimes? In a end, of course, Jesus was executed — between dual thieves.

But that wasn’t a finish of a story, on that sold Easter morning in Colorado, or in any of a other Easter services a former White House powerbroker chose to spend behind bars after he founded Prison Fellowship in 1976.

“If we wish to know what Easter is about, afterwards there’s no improved place to find out than in a tombs of a multitude — that is what a prisons are,“ he said. ”On this, of all days, jail is a one place that Jesus would be. Believe me.“

After Colson’s death, many of a obituaries — generally those constructed in chosen East Coast newsrooms — focused on his Watergate purpose and, perhaps, on his pivotal work formulating a new and absolute bloc of regressive Catholics and devout Protestants.

Working with a group of gifted researchers and writers, Colson also constructed shelves of successful books and commentaries that addressed roughly each argumentative emanate in American open life and politics.

Sadly, this all-politics D.C. Beltway viewpoint might pull courtesy divided from Colson’s trailblazing work in prisons, that eventually combined a network of some-more than 14,000 volunteers in some-more than 1,300 prisons national and around a world. He also founded a Justice Fellowship organization, that has worked for a revision of America’s sprawling, bloated, swarming and, all too often, mortal jail system.

“That’s where Chuck grown his amicable conscience. It was in prison, in all of those face-to-face encounters with those lost souls,“ pronounced former Colson help Michael Cromartie, in an talk this week. He now serves as clamp boss of a Ethics Public Policy Center, though once served as Colson’s initial investigate partner after a origination of Prison Fellowship.

“Chuck was never happier than when he took off his coupler and loosened his tie in a grubby jail chapel somewhere, confronting rows of group in steel folding chairs who had big, thick Bibles in their hands. … He embraced as many as he could. He attempted to learn their names and hear their stories. He attempted to make a disproportion in there.“

Terry Mattingly is a executive of a Washington Journalism Center during a Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads a plan to investigate sacrament and a news.

For a few some-more stories about jail ministries in a Huntsville area, see these stories from The Huntsville Times:

Prison clergyman questions genocide chastisement value

Joe Ingle.JPGThe Rev. Joe Ingle, during right, talks with Philip Workman before Workman’s 2007 execution for a murder that debate justification demonstrates he did not commit. Ingle, who will pronounce in Huntsville Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012, has created “The Inferno: A Southern Morality Tale” about his loyalty and advocacy on Workman’s behalf. (Courtesy of Gigi Cohen) HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — In 1981, Philip Workman walked into a Wendy’s grill in Memphis, brandished a gun, and had a employees palm him a income out of a money drawer.

Cornered moments after by military officers in a dilemma of a parking lot, Workman dismissed a gun. A military officer fell.

In 2007, Workman was executed for that homicide.

Trouble is, says a Rev. Joseph Ingle, who will pronounce in Huntsville Tuesday, Workman’s gun is not a one that killed that military officer.

The officer, according to debate justification analyzed after Workman’s ‘82 trial, was killed by a kind of bullet that is in military pistols, not Workman’s. The officer, in short, appears to have been killed by another officer’s shot.

Ingle’s latest book, “The Inferno: A Southern Morality Tale,” chronicles what happened between that impulse in a parking lot and Workman’s execution by fatal injection 26 years later.

“It was flattering most a nightmare,” Ingle pronounced this week from his home bureau in Nashville. “If we ever consider a emanate of collateral punishment and a rapist probity complement aren’t politically fraught, we need to take another look. It is over appalling.”

Ingle himself never had taken a demeanour until his comparison year in seminary. That’s when, to prove a requirement, he began volunteering in a jail in Harlem for 20 hours a week for a year.

“Meeting those group usually altered my life,” Ingle said.

handcuffs.JPGOne Huntsville

Who: The Rev. Joseph Ingle, author of “€œLast Rights”€ and “€œThe Inferno,”€ vocalization about his practice as clergyman to people cursed to genocide in Tennessee’€™s limit confidence jail in Nashville.

What: Regular monthly assembly of a spontaneous entertainment of people meddlesome in intercultural and interfaith issues. Organized by Huntsville’€™s Interfaith Mission Service.

When: Tuesday, 5-7 p.m. with announcements and module commencement during 5:45 p.m.

Where: 88 Buffet on University Drive in Burlington Mills usually west of Research Park Boulevard.

It also altered his ministry. Rather than take a United Church of Christ congregation, Ingle chose to turn a confident jail chaplain. He volunteers in Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville. From 1974 until 1983, he was a executive executive of a Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons, a multi-state classification that sought to annul a genocide penalty.

Abolishing a chastisement creates clarity not usually to equivocate executing people for crimes they didn’t commit, though also in elementary dollars and cents.

“Nationally, there is a pierce divided from collateral punishment,” Ingle said, “but we don’t see that in a South. Since 1977, some-more than 93 percent of a executions in a U.S. have been in a South.”

And patterns for those executions follow disturbingly informed paths of secular discrimination.

“If we kill a white person, we are 11 times some-more expected to die for that crime than if we kill a black person,” Ingle said. “And it’s even worse if you’re a black chairman and we kill a white person. Then we are 22 times some-more expected to die.”

Ingle pronounced that a stream mood in a U.S. of distrusting supervision should extend to this issue.

“Think about it,” Ingle said. “We don’t trust a state with a taxes, and we’re going to trust a state to contend who lives or dies?”


Welcome to! Here we will find information and testimonies about the Oklahoma Jail Prison Ministries. For some-more information greatfully contact:

Don Duncan, Chaplain
Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office
201 North Shartel Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-2227
405.713.1046 phone
405.713.2058 fax

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I was in jail and we came to revisit me…

OJPM Ministries

Oklahoma Jail Prison Ministries is a nonprofit, non-denominational, devout Christian overdo classification providing chaplains, personnel, and resources to move a good news of Jesus Christ to those incarcerated, and to supply them for life and service.

“I was in jail and we came to revisit me…”

~Jesus, Matthew 25:36

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