“I was a volunteer at Metro Jail before I became the chaplain. As a minister, God gives you an assignment and I started out as an evangelist and working in the prison ministry at my church. Kenny Davis was the chaplain before me. He passed away and they asked me to take his place. I didn’t take it the first time because I was making good money at the steel plant. Once you start doing God’s work, God lights the fire and confirms this is what you should be doing. For six months, I tried it out and worked both jobs. Eventually, the Lord let me know this is where he wants me to be.
Recidivism is the hard part. There are a lot of variables, they get out and come back, and that is heartbreaking. But it is not easy getting out, they need resources, training, and skills to live in the real world, not just the streets. The Neighbor Center helps inmates after they are released and help them with IDs, housing, social security cards, education, and getting a job.
“A Gift of Love at Christmas Time” through Promises of Life gives gifts to children who have parents in jail. We give out applications here and they put their child’s name and message on the gifts. We will deliver the gifts throughout Mobile and it is like the kids are getting a present from their father or mother. Some of them have never gotten anything from their father or mother. When they get that gift and the note, there is a bond and the gift shows the child, ‘They love me.’ Read some of the notes they are sending with the gifts.
‘Baby Girl, daddy gone for a while. I sent you some gifts from Santa Clause. I am going to see you soon.’
‘I love you. I hope your Christmas will be better than mine. Next year we will be together again.’
‘Never forget who you are or that Daddy loves you.’
Giving these gifts make them feel like a parent. Their attitude changes towards the jail and staff and brings humility. It also relives the stress of not being able to do something for their kids at Christmas and letting them down.
Individuals who care have to get involved. We can see the news on TV and say that isn’t good, but what are we going to do to change this? We need community to help with the transformation while these men and women are in prison. A lot of them want to do better but they don’t have the help they need. My heart is for middle schoolers who are already on the path to jail. I speak at elementary and middle schools about education and getting a job as a way to avoid jail. Getting to them then is so important because not all children have an environment conducive to brushing their teeth and getting to school. Some children don’t have any food in their refrigerator or power in their house. Poverty and lack of education brings people to jail. A lot of people are here because they had to do something to pay the bills. That is stealing and selling drugs. When they are on the street, they are living so fast that they don’t think of the consequences and going to jail for the next 10 years of their life.
We need more correction officers and more people working in the jail. We keep some who are mentally disabled here because there is no where else for them to go. Their crimes are misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct and trespassing. They have no one to give them support. We also help make phone calls. It can help them get out or let family know about court dates. All of that relieves the stress and it gives them hope. You want to snatch hopelessness out and put hope in. If they have hope, that is when they can make sound decisions.
We are praying in 2019 that churches will get more involved. They can support us financially or offer some kind of program or help with transportation, many of these guys don’t have drivers licenses. Take them to job interviews. Provide a bus ticket to help one from out of town get back home after he is released. Some can’t afford to get back home and back to their families. We need more employers making it possible for men and women to find work. Once they get a skill set and something they can use to make a living, they start hoping for a better life. They start getting a check, then a car and an apartment and see a better way. I tell them to dream bigger and go see the New Orleans Saints play. Here, they are living in a box, but I push them to think a little bigger.
When Jesus Christ made disciples, they made disciples. That is what we are supposed to do. Each one can touch another one. Change happens on a spiritual level and I get to see total transformation in people here. That is the joy. We just need more people who care to help people make a transformation and never come back to jail.”
How you can help Mobile County Metro Jail Chaplain Ministries: Make a financial donation or give your time. Donate books and magazines for the library. Donate white t-shirts, socks, bras, boxer shorts or women’s panties or large sizes of soap bars, shampoo (VO5 in a clear bottle), lotion in a clear bottle, toothpaste (Aim or Pepsodent). These will be given out to as Christmas presents to the 1400 men and women in Metro Jail.
For more information about giving Christmas gifts to those in prison, or their children, email [email protected] or call 251-574-5469.