Monday, October 29, 2012

Going To Prison This Weekend

One of the things I am passionate about is prison ministry.  This weekend several hundred men and women and I will be going into state, federal and county correctional institutions to give those on the inside of the prison walls the Hope and Good News of Jesus Christ.

Bill Glass DFW Weekend of Champions

Personally I will be going into the Sanders "Sandy" Estes Unit, which is a privately run prison housing Texas inmates.

Picture of the outside of the Estes Unit

 This unit is located in Venus, TX which is located south of Dallas and Fort Worth, almost directly between I-35 east and I-35 West.  This is a state prison unit, run by a private company, and houses 1040 incarcerated men along with 195 prison employees.

Here is a graphic on this particular unit:

Short Breakdown of the Prison Population by Offense Type and Sentence

I know several of you out there are wondering why I do this, or may be wondering why so many people might be wasting our time trying to help out these people when we should be locking them up and throwing away the key.  Well, the simple reason is this: we are commanded to by Jesus Christ Himself. 

Mat 25:34-46 MSG
(34)  "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation.
(35)  And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,
(36)  I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'
(37)  "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?
(38)  And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?'
(40)  Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me.'
(41)  "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell.
(42)  And why? Because-- I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
(43)  I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
(44)  "Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
(45)  "He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me--you failed to do it to me.'
(46)  "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
 But that is not the only reason.  I have several others as well.  I believe that if you truly give these men and women the true Hope that is in Jesus Christ, then they can and will turn their life around and when they walk out of the prison, either discharging their sentence or paroling out, they will lead a productive life that will not be a burden on society.  I have seen this with my own eyes!  Also, each person has worth in God's eyes.  The first person Jesus pardoned, while STILL on the cross was a thief condemned to death.  Think about that for a moment. The people in prison have worth in God's eyes, even if people cannot find that worth.  God loves all of us, even if some of us are behind bars for crimes they committed.

One of the other reasons is that a sin is a sin is a sin.  We as human beings tend to categorize sins and put them in order from least worst to absolute worse.  Murder is worse than taking a pencil isn't it?  Or is kidnapping worse than lying?  Not in God's eyes it's not!  Sin is sin to God and a person with ANY sin cannot approach God.  So remember that, the next time you tell a while lie, or pocket that pen from the office and take it home with you.  In God's eyes, a liar is no better than a murderer for anyone who sins cannot approach God.  Unless that person is reconciled by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

That is why I go in to prison.  It is a dark place , full of gloom and despair, depression and hopelessness.  It is the domain of the enemy.  I and others like me go to bring the light of the good news of Christ.  We go to offer Hope, to tell them there is a better way.

I'll post how things went after Saturday, when I return home.  For now, I am asking for your prayers.  Pray for me and all of the Bill Glass team mates who are going into the prisons.  Pray for protection, both spiritual and physical.  Pray for the hearts of the inmates and correctional staff to soften and their minds and hearts to be receptive to the Gospel.

Thank you for reading.  Have a great rest of the day.

Below you can find more stats on the Estes Prison Unit.

Unit Full Name: Sanders "Sandy" Estes Unit
Unit Address and Phone Number: 1100 Hwy 1807, Venus, TX 76084
(972) 366-3334 (**670)
Unit Location: One mile southeast of Venus on Hwy 1807 in Johnson County
Senior Warden: Stephen McAdams
Deputy Director of Operations Monitoring: Grady Wallace
Private Facility Contract Monitoring/Oversight Division Director: Celeste Byrne, Private Facility Contract Monitoring/Oversight Division
Date Unit Established or On Line: August 1989
Total Employees *: 195
Security Employees *: 144
Non-Security Employees *: 33
Education Employees *: 7
Contract Medical and Psychiatric Employees* *: Medical = 11; Psychiatric = 0
Offender Gender: Male
Maximum Capacity: 1,040
Custody Levels Housed: G1, G2
Approximate Acreage: 40
Agricultural Operations: None
Manufacturing and Logistics Op.: None
Facility Operations: Unit Maintenance
Medical Capabilities: Ambulatory medical, dental and mental health services. Managed by UTMB.
Educational Programs: Adult Basic Education, GED, Fundamentals, Life Skills

Vocational Programs: Building Trades; Electrical Trades; Food Service; Culinary Arts; Computer Technology; Commercial Housekeeping
Additional Programs/Services: Faith Based Dormitory, Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
Community Work Projects: Services provided to city and county agencies.
Volunteer Initiatives: Substance Abuse Education, Support Groups, Pre-Release Programs, Religious/Faith Based Studies and Activities
Operated by: Management and Training Corporation (MTC)

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