Navajo Judiciary Complex
The prison ministries team from La Vida Mission, near Farmington, New Mexico, is reaching Navajo inmates incarcerated at the Navajo Judiciary Complex. Each week Dori and Polly Panganiban share Jesus’ love through Bible studies and practical lifestyle classes.
Recently Wayne and Betsy Dennison, who have been attending the La Vida Mission Adventist Church for some time, asked Dori and Polly if they could go along. Wayne, a retired Navajo welder, explained that he knew what it was like to be in jail because he had been there himself and wanted to share his testimony with the inmates.
“I was once in your shoes,” Wayne told the prisoners. “I had a good job, but I was into heavy alcohol drinking and so I landed in jail. I was scared that I might lose my beautiful wife and daughters. In my cell one night, I knelt down and wept and cried to God to help me. Then I felt His loving embrace, and heard His voice of assurance.”
Wayne described how a few hours later the jailer told him that his wife and boss had come with an attorney to help him out. He entered a treatment facility for several months, and was allowed to work during the day but had to return to his cell at night. “God healed me,” Wayne stated. “From that time until now, I have never touched alcohol. I’m happier now and I pray to God a lot. I go to church with the nicest people you ever met. So if you want to overcome your problems and be out of here, listen to these people and come to Jesus. Ask Him to help you, and He will, just as He did for me.”
Wayne’s powerful testimony moved many inmates to inquire about his church and how to get closer to God.
Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute
Pastor Ted Williams began prison ministries in the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute while serving as pastor in Torrington, Wyoming in 2010. Although Pastor Williams has since transferred to Fort Lupton, lay leaders are continuing to give Bible studies every Sabbath evening. So far 16 young men have become members of the Torrington church through baptism. And many of the inmates have adopted the “SDA diet” (vegetarian), as they like to call it, after learning of the health benefits.
Elder Ruben Belaguer reports, “In October 2013, I obtained permission to give Bible studies at the Durango Jail every Monday evening. Spanish is my first language, so the first time I went, prepared with Spanish Bible study materials, I asked an officer to call any interested Hispanic inmates to my designated room.”
To Belaguer’s surprise, six English-speaking inmates showed up, plus two who spoke both Spanish and English. He wondered how he could teach them if they didn’t know Spanish. But they were hungry for the Word of God and desired to come anyway. So he acquired Bible studies in English for the following week.
From humble beginnings with eight inmates, the group has grown to 16 currently attending. “They are so interested that every time I pass out magazines and books, they want more! I ask your prayers for them,” said Belaguer.
To find out how you can get involved in prison ministry in your area contact Pastor Ted Williams at email@example.com.
Author Mark Bond is communication director for the Rocky Mountain Conference.