Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield

Guest blogger: Gordon Lawrence (January 25, 2011)

January 25, 2011 by Gordon Lawrence 0 comments

Today’s guest blogger is Gordon Lawrence, a long-time member of NewLife as well as a volunteer with Free Inside prison ministry. He is writing today to share about his experience with Free Inside, as well as to share some of the opportunities for people to partner with this important ministry.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25:34-36)

On the second Sunday of this year, Peter Dewberry preached at NewLife Christian Fellowship, and I thought that as a follow-up, it would be useful to mention to the congregation that two members of NewLife are prison volunteers with Free Inside: Michael McCoy and me. Michael volunteers at Cybulski Prison in Enfield on Thursday evenings, and I volunteer at Gates Prison in Niantic on Thursday afternoons. Both of us can testify as to how much this has been a blessing to us, quite apart from how it might have benefited inmates.

My own experience over the last few months has been very encouraging. Some of you were praying for us at Gates, because the session that was completed in the summer of 2010 seemed such a disaster; all prison inmates ceased to attend before the end of the session. The three of us who were volunteers were obviously discouraged; however, from the outset of the next program that was completed at the end of 2010, attendance was good, and by the end we were averaging over twenty prison inmates each week, many of whom were very keen to be there. We thank God for all who attended, some of whom showed real promise in going on in the Christian life. We will be restarting at Gates at the end of January, with a study on the Sermon on the Mount. Please pray that many will want to attend, and for special grace and wisdom for those of us who are volunteers, for we found that many who came to the last session were Spanish speakers, some with very little English ability. We have Spanish handouts, but the equipment at this prison facility does not permit us to use a DVD with Spanish subtitles.

Free Inside has volunteer groups in seven Connecticut Prisons, with usually 7 to 10 programs running for most of the year, and therefore we have the potential to make contact with many prison inmates. Believers in Jesus are encouraged to visit those who are in prison, firstly to show our love for them; but also to rescue them from lives heading for disaster. Many prison inmates have a history of drug and alcohol abuse, many are from difficult neighborhoods, and others have fallen through the cracks in the legal system; but for all, irrespective of their background, they need to hear that there are those who care for them and most of all, they are of value to Jesus.

From the inception of Free Inside, NewLife Christian Fellowship has been a significant supporter of the Ministry. 2011 will be a challenging year; and we would be encouraged by your help in either keeping the ministry in your prayers, by becoming a volunteer, or by giving financially.

Financial needs: Our total budget is quite small, but over the last two years many faithful supporters have had to cut back, and the foundation that has assisted in the past is unlikely to do so again. This year we will not meet our financial needs without additional support. Please consider if you should become a regular contributor, or could make a onetime gift.

Volunteers: We have a constant need for volunteers, but all who volunteer will need patience and a commitment to the long term. Beyond the ministry’s own requirement for training and orientation, usually 6 to 7 hours on a Saturday, approval is required from the Department of Corrections. Prospective volunteers will work to a Department of Corrections timetable, and we have found that volunteers can wait for many months before they are called for an interview and orientation by the Department.

Prayer: Please keep us in your prayers, particularly Peter Dewberry, Michael McCoy and myself. Prison work can be frustrating, as we are understandably bound by the rules of the Department of Corrections and their need for security. We cannot let our frustrations get the better of us even if we have driven to a prison facility only to find that there is a lockdown that day, and no visitors will be allowed inside (this incidentally is part of the frustration that relatives of prison inmates also experience. In a sense when one family member is in prison, all are in prison).

If you are interested in participating in the ministry in any way, please contact me at AGLDEL@cox.net, or Peter Dewberry at FreeInside@cox.net. With regard to being a volunteer, if you give us your name, we can contact you when there will be an orientation session, which would enable you to learn more about what is involved, prior to an application to the Department of Corrections. Thank you for your interest.

Comments for this post have been disabled