Our Handlon congregation is currently in the midst of interviewing new potential leadership team members. The leadership team is responsible for caring for God’s people behind the walls, assisting, in worship, and helping the outside leadership teams discern where the church is and where the Lord would have it go. Brothers on the leadership team come under tremendous pressure, not just because of the nature of their calling, but also because of how the prison population subjects them to increased scrutiny. They are the face of the church behind the walls. Please keep these brothers in your prayers as they share the gospel behind the walls in a visible and powerful way. Pray that they may have strength, wisdom, discernment, and a humble spirit as the further the work of God’s kingdom in prison.
Many of us take air conditioning for granted during the hot summer nights. Air conditioning is a rare treat behind bars. We lift up our brothers who are dealing with the current heat and humidity in Ionia. We especially remember those who are elderly, that they will stay hydrated and healthy through the heat wave. We are thankful that the LORD has given us the warm weather so that the crops can put food on our tables, and pray that by his gracious hand he will keep our brothers from heat exhaustion and stroke.
Reentry is overwhelming. The world changes dramatically in five, or ten, or thirty years, and when men leave prison they are thrust into a world they don’t know. They go from being in an environment where every move is watched and expectations are clear to an environment where the rules are not so clear and expectations are new. They need to find a place to live, a job, a church, and are thrust back into relationships they haven’t dealt with in years. Please pray for our brothers as they leave prison and reenter society, that they will be embraced by a community of believers who will lift them up and help them to learn to stand on their own two feet in the free world.
Many changes are happening in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). Warden Ken McKee of Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) has been promoted to Assistant Director of MDOC. We will miss the professionalism of Warden McKee and his vision for programming at IBC. Warden Tony Trierweiler has taken over the helm of IBC and we look forward to working with him!
Additionally, food service provider Aramark has lost its contract with the MDOC and the new provider, Trinity Food, will start handling meals for our men in the coming months.
Change, even if it’s good, can be frightening. We trust the LORD that these changes in the best interests of the men at Celebration Fellowship. Please lift up our men and the staff involved as they go through these changes, that they will trust in the LORD and rest in his peace.
This week our worship in Celebration Fellowship is concentrating on appreciation for the bountiful gifts he’s given us. We are thankful for being allowed to worship with the church behind bars. We are thankful that our services will start using an overhead projector for the music and scripture reading. We are thankful that the Lord has given us such a time as this to preach the good news and make disciples. Our thanks are endless because the grace of our Lord is endless. Thanks you, Lord, for everything!
Many in our congregations suffer from mental impairment. Some are in prison because of a lack of impulse control. Others are in prison because they are unable to care for themselves and we have no other institution in which they can be cared for. We lift up these men who need a guiding hand that looks to the wisdom of the LORD, that they may be discipled to walk in His ways. We ask, O Lord, that they will be treated with dignity and respect. We ask that You use them to minister to others, and that the gifts You have given them will be used to glorify Your name!
Please keep the parole boards in your prayers this week. Their job is difficult. They must try to determine what a person will do in the future and do what they can to keep society safe. They must also work to ensure inmates do not do more time than necessary. Their job is thankless. They do not get pats on the back when those they release on parole go on to live productive lives, but are viewed with scorn when they release someone who goes on to reoffend. Lord, we ask that you watch over the parole boards, give them wisdom, discernment, and a heart for justice.
Please pray that the LORD continue to open doors for Calvin Seminary and College as they work toward starting classes at Handlon Correctional Facility this fall. May the LORD bless the men who come to learn with wisdom and love for God’s word. May the LORD bless the church behind bars as the seminary prepares them to work in God’s kingdom.
Prayer for wisdom in the identification and selection of Leadership Team members for the Handlon congregation.