Please show support of this church construction project by providing your own Endorsement.
As DeWitt County Judge for 24 years, I often saw the need for spiritual direction for men and women who appeared before me. The same was true for many youngsters who were in DeWitt County Juvenile Court. The proposed church construction project is the most needed I have seen in a long time.
God blessed me in many ways when I was in the ministry. One of the greatest joys and most profitable for others was my Chaplaincy at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas. Beginning in 1980 and continuing through1996, I was the Chaplain at the Chapel of Hope, the first prison chapel built in Texas and the only free standing Chapel in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system. With an inmate population of 2200, along with hundreds of great volunteers from all faiths, we had a program that transformed men from unbelievers into believers. God performed many miracles at the Walls Unit. This chapel was built to hold 360 men, and for many of our activities, this chapel was filled with men seeking God, accepting the power of the Holy Spirit and accepting the change which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The transformations that happened there have produced productive men that still follow their faith. The Chapel space enabled us to have 36 activities per week. With music, witnessing, faith sharing, and just caring for others, a chapel provides a benefit for Texas, TDCJ-ID, and especially, the inmates. God really works “Within These Walls”.
Having been a member of the crusade team on a number of occasions at the Stevenson Unit, I believe I can speak first hand of the power of Christ’s love that has been witnessed during these retreats. Through God’s tremendous capacity and gift of forgiveness, I have been allowed to see these incarcerated men as someone’s son, brother, father, or husband instead of what many would deem a lawbreaker, criminal or convicted felon. How many of us can rightfully say that we had never made a mistake or that we had lived our entire life without some moment of regret. Society seems comfortable with the punishment phase of their lives, and once off the street, these men are forgotten in the case known as “out of sight, out of mind.” The majority of these men have not been sentenced to life in prison, eventually, most of them will be returned to the “free world”.
Instead of releasing broken and disoriented convicts back into our society, it seems only right that we should support these men in discovering their personal strengths and to help them with spiritual growth, so that the otherwise common cycle of persistent incarceration is finally broken. Current conditions at the Stevenson Unit make it difficult to minister to the offenders, and therefore the construction of the Chapel will greatly facilitate the overwhelming number of men who seek to better themselves in order to live again in a peaceful society.
I know some people will always say, 'Why should I spend money on those people?' But one of the greatest things TDCJ ever gave me was the opportunity to get to know God, It's the desire of everyone in this unit to see this chapel built. Whatever money people decide to give we will appreciate.
Apart from the time for set up in the gym to have church, and the heat in the summer. A permanent place for spiritual environment would be one great step to raising up sons of God on the Stevenson unit. Romans 8: 19 for the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. The more these men grow the more they will effect the environment they live in and when they are released into freedom. I am in.
As a volunteer teaching at the Stevenson Unit, I see weekly the need for a chapel. The classrooms in the Education Building are not large enough to hold all the students in the faith based programs. Men are turned away because there is not enough room. I highly endorse the mission to build a chapel. It is greatly needed to help the men change their lives before their release.
I am the new Chaplain on the Stevenson Unit. God gave me a dream, a vision to make the Stevenson Unit the first Unit in Texas to become a Faith-Based Unit. However, the first Red Sea we have to cross is to have a Chapel. It literally breaks my heart for my guys to be turned away from Faith-Based Classes, which are being held in the Education building, because there is not enough room.
I have only been given 3 small rooms to use in the Education building which presents its own set of problems. I have a Faith-Based Dorm of 63 beds and men who are truly committed. I have a 3 year waiting list because I only have the 63 bed dorm which is a one-year contract for the men approved to get in. I have 377 request of men wanting a chance to get in and change their lives.
I have on a weekly basis 150 request to get into faith based classes. Yes some of these men’s hearts may not be "all in," but I know if they can attend Faith-based classes then God will work on them right where they are at they do not necessarily have to be in the Faith-based dorm.
I cannot even allow them in classes because the classroom sizes are limited to 35 people. The room that has been given me for a Chapel has a limit of 65 capacity this includes Volunteers and myself. It is so discouraging to them; and to me to see the look on their faces when they are told they are on a "waiting list."
I have even had them comment, "why should we even try?" I tell them do not give up GOD will open a door and I will not quit trying until I find it. "Do not give up we will have a Chapel, we will all be able to gather together and worship."
"Ask and it shall be given, Seek and you will find, Knock and the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7 --- this is what I tell my guys. I will not quit.
I have only been on the job for 7 months, nevertheless I feel GOD telling me I will be there until this vision is complete. Then the next milestone will be the Unit becoming the first Faith-Based Unit in the State of Texas. I have the tenacity of a pit-bull and I do NOT believe in "giving up," or "quitting."
When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time." ~ Author Unknown
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without faith and confidence." ~ Helen Keller
I am optimistic, I need your help, we need people to come alongside us who have the means, the blessings to give to this life changing Chapel of Hope. This not only changes these men's lives but also changes generations in their families to come. This Chapel and the classes that it will provide and Promote Positive Change and Provide Public Safety when these me return to the free world to start their new lives. Will you please prayerfully consider giving whatever amount you can give?
A Chapel would be a Miracle~!
GOD bless you and thank you,
This is a great program for those who need help. Really caring people helping others.
Over the past ten years I have been going to the Stevenson Unit. I spend on average 3 hours every Tuesday with the men in the unit. We celebrate God's redeeming love and healing power.
Unfortunately, the space available only gives us access to 50 men at one time. Because of limited space we turn men away. This space we use is a multipurpose room that has to be constantly transformed which takes away valuable time. A chapel, a sacred space, creates in the heart a more conducive openness to God.
It is in this openness that these men can continue to be transformed and be made ready to respond to God's healing love. This sacred place can help these men connect to God's presence and be encouraged on the road of rehabilitation.
The faith-based programs at the prison helped me transition when he got out. Being in the program, it's really helped me out a lot.
I've been out almost two years, I've been employed since I got out and I just continue to try to stay focused. It afforded me the opportunity to grow, not just in my faith or spirituality, but as a man.
I teach a faith-based program at the prison called Celebrate Recovery. The chapel can have a long-term impact on prisoners. We just need a place where we can better teach these guys what they need to know and help them change their lives. As of right now, classes either meet in the prison's faith-based dormitory or the gym, but neither is ideal.
The dorm only houses 63 of the 1300 men there, and often, classes are interrupted by officers having to do inmate counts. Their other option, the gym, only fits 150 people and can reach 95-100 degrees in the summer. In addition, the exhaust and floor fans make it difficult to even conduct a class.
The fans make so much noise that it's hard to hear. You can't hear their questions and they can't hear you teaching. It's hard to rehab people like that.
The amount of people we turn away shows that there's more out there that want to come to classes like this.
Apart from the sweltering 100 degree temperatures in the gym Church services, it might also be nice if there were a separate Sacred Place, a Sanctuary (Chapel) that the men could go to worship and learn the Bible to transport their spirit to a place of inner freedom and transform their souls to become worthy one day to experience freedom again outside the prison walls.
It is very important for the brothers of the Stevenson unit to have a chapel building. The chapel serves as the only true rehabilitation for prisoners. It’s a place where men can meet God and lay there needs before him without consequence. As Christians we too have rights to worship, its how this nation was built on freedom to worship. The chapel allows men to go before the presence of God and allow seeds that are planted by the volunteers to grow.
God’s word has always been a trustworthy “compass”. He likened it to a lamp. In that day, the flickering light cast by olive oil was only bright enough to show a traveler his next step. To me Gods word is the necessary light to illuminate the change of life’s path one can only find in God’s place of worship. When I was wandering in the dark chaotic path of life, I believed that Gods word, through the guidance of his word brought by the volunteers in a chapel will and has provided direction to rehabilitate.
When we lose our bearings in life, we can trust our God who gives us His trustworthy word as our compass, using it to lead us into a deeper fellowship with Him in his place where he meets his people the chapel provides this consecration.
The work of redemption reflects our values. It also reflects our national interests. Each year, approximately 650,000 prisoners are released from jail. Unfortunately, an estimated two-thirds of them are rearrested within three years.
True spiritual transformation is not only possible, it’s the purest form of moral rehabilitation ever known to the world.