What A Year This Has Been!
On February 14-16, Disciples 4 Christ kicked off the year with a Marriage Crusade on the Hughes Unit. Serving within the gates is such an honor! We ministered to over 800 offenders. May the seeds planted go deep that the enemy can not snatch them out. We arranged several dynamic married couples to share their testimonies from Brandy and Richard Patrick, Marla and Robert Watson, Krista and Dennis Morrow, Sandra and Jackie Jones. Each couple had different stories from facing deep seated emotional roots, selfishness, a history of abuse, health problems and blended families. Our volunteers were also touched by the testimonies and the love of Christ that has prevailed through them all. We had four different classes that covered the 5 Languages of Love, Fire Proof, Marriage and Incarceration. It truly was a huge success.
Angela Fernandez shared, “My husband was so moved and blessed by all the wisdom that was imparted to him that he had to call me to share with me. I could hear in his voice how blessed he was. Thank you for the passion you share and the time you take with these brothers it’s not in vain. May God continue to bless all that you do. A very thankful wife.”
In the Faith Dorms in March, Rob Waldron and Bob Neyra, taught on team building. They allowed the guys to build their own dream football team. The men had to nominate each player and back up their nomination with facts and sometimes opinion. A vote was taken after all nominations submitted to pick whom they wanted at each position. When they were finished picking their dream team, it was pointed out to them that what they just did was team work. They shared how everyone’s choice was respected and debated. Rob then explained how to apply it in real life. By taking the same principles, he showed them how to put together ideas with each other to solve matters and to organize teams to get projects accomplished. The offenders were very engaged, involved and excited to participate in the lesson. They gained insight that they could, in fact, work as a team to accomplish things in life.
On April 26-27, the mini Crusade on the Mt View Unit centered on the teaching of the Circle Maker. “Praying Away” verses “Praying Through”, we’re often so anxious to get out of difficult, painful or challenging situations that we fail to grow through them. We want the situation to change so badly that we can’t see God’s glory. Sometimes our Heavenly Father delivers us from our problems or He sees us through it. We shared teachings on learning how to pray, drawing prayer circles around their dreams, their families, and most importantly, the promises of God. We hope those who participated will never be the same. We hope they are trusting God with their dreams and fears. We shared testimonies of the power of prayer and we hope that they were able to see the awesomeness of God and to encourage their faith.
In June, we hosted a Faith Dorm Graduation Dinner for 63 offenders, their families and many volunteers. There was even food left over for the officers. One mother shared that she hadn’t eaten a meal with her son in over 20 years. Words can’t explain how great it felt to serve them. How humbling it was for God to use us to bless the families and offenders. We pray they take what was given to them in the past 12 months in the faith dorm and share it throughout the unit and into their own families. After dinner, we held a concert with NLQ, Warning Voices and our special guest speaker Baylor Barbee inspired them to be all they can be. Below, Baylor shared a personal video testimony of his experience. Also below you can listen to a snippet of NLQ.
On August 30, we had a coalition of partners who hosted a Kingdom Rally at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium. All proceeds raised are benefiting D4C’s annual hygiene Blessing Bag drive on December 6. Baker’s Ribs was our food sponsor. Visitors were able shop with our vendors, enter door prizes, eat and listen to a variety of live musicians. Also, we awarded our 2014 “Beating the Odds” Scholarship to Lane Cannon from Quinlan High School. Sheriff Meeks shared some encouragement and our guest speaker, Baylor Barbee gave a motivational message.
Live music began at 5pm. The event schedule started with New Life Questers, Top Rail Band, Marcia Henderson, Michael Lowry Band, Guest Speaker, Sheriff Meeks, D4C Highlights Video, Beating the Odd’s Scholarship, New, Life Questers, Tonia Bore, Slaves Wage Band and Guest Speaker, Baylor Barbee.
Thank you to our corporate sponsors for your generosity and time: Baylor Barbee, Le-Vel, All Star Labor and Staffing, i-sytes, Bakers Ribs, Ponderosa Pet Resort and D & D Worldwide. Also thank you to our Church & Ministry Partnerships: South Euless Baptist Church-Euless, TX, Father’s House -Greenville, TX, Generations Church -Fate, TX, Kingdom Faith Bible Church -McKinney, TX, Harvest Bible Church -Greenville, TX, Abundant Life Assemble -Commerce, TX, Top Rail Cowboy Church -Greenville, TX, Theos Ministry -Greenville, TX, Real Issues. Real Jesus. -Royse City, TX, Homeless Heart Ministry -Sulphur Springs, TX, Reaching the Heart of the Street Ministry – Lancaster, TX, Discipleship Unlimited -Temple, TX, Dwelling Place -Commerce, TX and Angels Among Us -Winnsboro, TX. Thank you to our vendors: Perfectly Posh®, Pink Zebra®, Thirty-one®, Origami Owl® Custom Jewelry, Jamberry Nails, It works!® and Younique. It was a great day for a lot of families.
On September 2o, we hosted our first Day with Dad on the Hughes Unit. One family member wrote, “I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this weekend was for all of us. Making the pie with the children was like being at home and everyone had a task and we all knew what to do…it took team work and we made it so much fun. The movie was perfect…it touched all of us. I gotta tell you, it really touched my mother-in-law even more, she lost her oldest son when he was 16. God has been so good to us, allowing us to enjoy each other as a family…using your nonprofit to touch the hearts of inmates and then using them to touch the hearts of us, their love ones. Let me tell you, what you’re doing for them in there (from the faith based dorm and all the events and classes) it’s like a domino effect to our families. It brings so much peace and love…it encourages us to seek God and lead our children to God as well. Thank you so much for all you do.”
Pastor Richard shared, “This weekend was one of the most incredible prison trips ever. It was touching to watch the men’s faces as they waited for their families to arrive and then become overwhelmed with joy as their kids walked into the chapel. It was such a blessing to watch the dad’s interact with their kids and play games with them. After the carnival was over, they sat down and ate lunch as a family and then watched a movie together. Day with Dad not only provided time for the men to bond with their kids, but it also formed bonds among the men. They stopped seeing each other as fellow inmates and instead saw fellow dads. I will anxiously wait for next year. Thank you to everyone who helped to make it a success.”
Dad’s and their children enjoyed the fun of a caricature artist. It was a blessing for them and their families to enjoy. Discipleship Unlimited and the Chapel of Hope workers also partnered up with us on this special day. What a joy! Many of the offenders were overwhelmed with emotion and looked forward to spending some time with their children. All the ministry partners that were there can agree that it was a humbling experience and we are so blessed in working with so many folks behind the scenes to to get this accomplished. What a mighty God we serve!
This ministry truly has a heart for the prisoners, former prisoners and family of offenders. Our heart is to stop the revolving door of prison and help these men and women break the grips of incarceration. Did you know today’s prisoner is tomorrow’s neighbor? Did you know that 2 out of 3 offenders will reoffend within their first 3 years of being released? Our ministry is made up of a coalition of churches and ministries coming together for the great commission. (Matthew 28:19)
Will you pray about partnering with us to help these men and women become productive men and women of society? I would love to see a representative from each Hunt County church be there to learn how we can join forces to build a better community for those who society has casted away?
Our goal is to transform the offenders into Christian spiritual leaders who will not only help transform prison culture from the inside, but also the urban areas where offenders will return after they are released.
“The bigger challenge is bridging the ministry program back into the community and ﬁnding churches that will receive them and then take it to the next level,” Susan Neyra said. “We are pretty good at locking people up and keeping them there. We are not as good at welcoming them back to the community and supporting them in a way that keeps them from returning.”
“Prison culture is such that men are taught to isolate,” Rob Waldron (D4C Board Member) said. “That is the way they survive in a brutal and repressive environment. The ministry programs that we offer cuts completely against the grain of that culture to create an environment where men and women are willing to be honest with each other about their deepest struggles and needs.”
We still have several more services that our volunteers are preparing for each month to bi-monthly on multiple units. We are finishing the year out handing out Blessing Bags to 1000’s of offenders. We have almost reached our goal, but we still need to raise $6,000. Each bag will cost approximate $4 each. Please pray about helping us by sponsoring a few bags.