By SHERRY DIGMON
The fields are ripe; workers are few. That was the theme for the We Care Program banquet held Friday evening, February 29. The purpose of the evening was two-fold – to accept donations for the program and to appeal to anyone who might be interested in prison chaplaincy.
Friday’s banquet meeting began We Care Spring Tour 2020, a two-week road trip.
Highlights of the evening included music by John Schmid, Common Ground Ministries, Berlin, Ohio, who has been involved in prison ministry 30 years.
We Care Program president Don Metzler shared a sad moment when he talked about prison chaplain Bob Depew who passed away only weeks ago. Don shared a note by an inmate to whom Bob ministered.
After paraphrasing Matthew 9:35-38, Don said, “My challenge to you is pray with us for laborers, pray for chaplains.”
Steve Stoltzfus, chaplain at Staton C.F., Montgomery, spoke briefly about his work in prison. He started in the ministry in 2011, thinking he’d like to work one-on-one with inmates. Apparently, God had other plans because Steve was soon doing Bible studies and conducting classes.
Steve said he tells brothers in white, it’s not about the past – it’s about today and moving forward.
Russell Tyler knows about moving forward. Introduced as a Friend of We Care, Montgomery, Tyler talked about his time in prison.
“I came from a pretty good family.” he said. “I had the chance to do everything right at every turn, but I chose the wrong thing. My sins took me down a wrong path … It destroyed my family. I let myself get the best of me.”
At age 40, Russell was sent to prison. He is now 51. He talked about sitting in his prison cell, in disbelief that his life had come to this.
“It took [incarceration] to save my soul,” he said, “I had to lose everything to gain it all. A man named Jesus Christ was reaching into the darkness of that cell. My journey started at the beginning of my prison incarceration.”
He began walking alongside other men who wanted to know a better way.
“I once was a prisoner but I was set free because of my imprisonment,” Russell said.
He quoted a chorus from a song by Matthew West, “Broken Things”:
“Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours.”