We can make a difference to the lives of those without Christ or just turn a blind eye towards them. A church in northwest Indiana started a new campus in the Jasper County Jail to make an impact on the lives of the prison inmates and show them the love of Christ.
First Church started the new campus in 2019, they have a worship service which holds on every Thursday morning, and has a worship and a video sermon. It was initially started for the men only, but afterwards the church started a service for the women in the jail as well.
Grant Allen, the Worship and Music Director of First Church, said that they have about 35-40 men and women attending the services every week. “When we had spoken with Sheriff Pat Williamson about the possibility of doing this, he seemed open to it and excited about it. So we started building a team of volunteers from our current location saying, ‘Hey, we want to go share the love of Jesus with the men and women in jail. Are you willing to do that?’ The ones who seemed excited about it, prayed about it.”
// Nothing we do here at First Church would be possible were it not for all of YOU!
Our volunteers mean so much to us….
The volunteer team had to go through two different training sessions at the jail as their service was going to be different from the regular prison ministries which have just a bible study, First Church wanted to provide the inmates at Jasper County Jail with a live worship experience.
Sheriff Williamson and the other jail staff knew this service would have a big effect on the inmates’ lives and so helped the church to make it a success. Allen said, that he prayed that it would give them a chance to demonstrate Christ’s love to them.
He said that it was sad, that people nowadays could see lawbreakers get a mug shot or be convicted on social media, but also said it was important that they held accountable for their crimes. He added that it turns into a sounding board of hate towards them, and as Christians we feel like Jesus forgives us time and again whenever we mess up. He said, “And I love that we have a sheriff who is so committed to rehabilitation that he’s giving us this opportunity to go in there and show these guys, ‘Hey, you’re still loved. Hey, you’re still cared about.’”
// Today was the first official service at our Jasper County Jail Campus!! We love this opportunity to share Jesus with those at the Jasper County Jail! 😁🙌
Jasper County Sheriff’s Office
Posted by First Church on Thursday, March 7, 2019
Allen says he feels his prayers are answered regarding the impact of the church on the jail, and the difference is being felt not only by the inmates but the guards as well.“We have a quieter atmosphere. In times past, you would hear banging, kicking, yelling, screaming, but now it’s very quiet,” Sheriff Williamson said, “They get along well, they treat staff better so we have less incident. It just complements the other things going on in our jail”
“That’s just a testimony to how the Holy Spirit can fill a place,” he said. “No matter where you are, no matter what you’ve done, God is able and willing to light up that darkness and make things better.”
// Amazing grace! 💙
Today, a member of our Jasper County Jail Campus led us in singing “Amazing Grace.”
Posted by First Church on Thursday, May 30, 2019
An inmate, Anthony, even helped Allen lead worship one of the mornings which was a testimony of the way the worship service is giving opportunities to the inmates. First Church does not intend to stop caring and supporting inmates after they get out of jail. Allen said that some business owners are interested in providing and finding jobs for the inmates after they leave the jail.
// Today, 5 men and 4 women at our Jasper County Jail Campus publicly declared their faith in Jesus! What a beautiful thing!! ❤️
Posted by First Church on Thursday, May 23, 2019
He said that First Church would provide all the support for the inmates when their time is done, just like Jesus gave people second chances. After the opening of the Jasper County Jail church location, 9 inmates gave their lives to Jesus and have been baptized. First Church is praying for more to get baptized in the coming days, “One of the things we love to say here is ‘With Jesus the best is yet to come,’” Allen said, “And with Jesus in the jail, the best is definitely still yet to come.”