Linda Austin, Executive Director
A friend who works at a local prison made an unusual prayer request at a Wednesday night prayer service in the warm months of summer, 2006. “There is an inmate at the prison whose mom has just been diagnosed with cancer. He asked me to see if someone in our church would send her notes of encouragement and call to check on her from time to time since she doesn’t have a church family.”
We prayed for the inmate and his mom during the service. I then asked my friend for her contact information and her sons, so I could let him know I was checking on his mom. On a small slip of paper - in handwriting that would soon become very familiar - was a name, address and phone number of a sick mother in Knoxville. Her son’s name was Edward.
By the summer of 2007, God had intertwined our families. Although we were very different, God has used this atypical union to bless, grow and encourage all involved.
Through Edward, I have come to know that many of those behind the walls are incredibly intelligent, gentle, loving and hard working. They are no different than those of us on the outside. They, like us, are in need of His grace on a regular basis. With proper nurturing and guidance as they were growing up, many of them would have flourished in this life.
I have a small note posted in my office which simply declares, “love heals.” Every time I notice it, I feel God’s call in my heart to keep doing what I am doing and to keep praying that He will allow me to see others through His eyes.
Today, I am so grateful that I was at that Wednesday night prayer meeting, and that Edward is now a part of my family. I find great joy in watching him grow, learn and develop the true desire for the abundant life that Jesus spoke of. I am blessed, and I am thankful.
Bobby Jon Drinkard
(Bobby Jon Drinkard starred in Survivor: Pulau and Survivor: Guatemala. He has made two visits into NECC. He responded to the Hands and Feet Ministry.)
"I just have to tell you, and I don't know what it was (or is), but I feel as if God injected me with an IV of love
and grace as never before. It's so weird (in a good way), and I feel so much more at peace and re-routed to what REALLY is important in life. Yeah, I did "survivor," have an "okay" testimony, etc., but what I took back with me from my recent visit is literally off the charts and those circumstances that I have been in before...don't even compare. Praise Jesus!!!
So many of you, including Pastor Bill at NECX and the folks at FBC Damascus, are such an inspiration, and not only talk with an amazing testimony, but you LIVE it.
A Letter From An Inmate
This is an excerpt from a letter received from an inmate who accepted Jesus during a Kairos event at a local prison. If you would like more information about a Kairos Ministry Team in your area, please contact us at Hands & Feet Ministries.
“I now know, because of what I have been through and by what I have seen and heard, that God saves lives in prison and He sets their hearts free from bondage first. I pray that if you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ, that my testimony will help you to come to know Him. God has changed me and given me a new heart. I was blind, but now I see. May God’s amazing grace come upon you, also! AMEN”
Initially, I was a little apprehensive about visiting the prison. But, I feel strongly that the men and women there are just as entitled to hear the gospel as those who are not incarcerated. How else were they going to hear the gospel if I am unwilling to overcome my fears, step out of my comfort zone and go in with them? This year will be my third year to go in to fellowship and serve the men, the apprehension was short lived, and long gone after the first visit I made.
The actual experience of going to the prison couldn't have been better, although one is going into the prison, I find it is a very non threatening environment. The men were thankful that we were there and appreciated our efforts and willingness to come and feed, fellowship and share with them. Many remembered us from the previous year, it was an obvious highlight of their day for us to take the time and effort and devote an evening to them.
I think going into the prison to visit is an invaluable experience for all involved. Many don't even have their own relatives come and visit them, I feel if we have the time and the resources we are being obedient to what the Lord has commanded us to do ~ to spread HIS word and love among the people and the nations, without bias or reservation.
(Sarah is a member of First Baptist Church Damascus. She and her husband have three children. She is also a H & F board member.)