"GETT'N READY FOR A PRISON BAPTISM!"


Do you have a minute to celebrate with me all that God has done in prison? We couldn't have witnessed God's spectacular works without your powerful prayers. Your prayers have moved the hand of God just like Moses and the Israelites.

What an honor it is to intercede for these wonderful people. I am so excited for our new upcoming five sessions on Baptism. I cannot begin to imagine what God is going to do next...? Last year (see February 2014 post) we had 70 inmates baptized full-immersion, it was like the SUPER BOWL of baptisms! From the request of the prison, we are now beginning a new baptism series for January 2015 and are looking forward to who God is drawing to himself this year.


And he said, "Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all of your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among you shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you." Exodus 34:10 NIV

Notice God said "with you." So together, please pray for the following series as the Holy Spirit guides you:


1.     BAPTISM’S PURPOSE:
“WHAT’S TRUE AND WHAT’S NOT?" 
Saturday, December 13,  2014 
2.     BAPTISM’S PREPARATION:(Christmas Story)
“YOUR STORY IS WORTH TELLING!" 
Saturday, December 27, 2014
3.     BAPTISM’S POWER:
“GUTS AND GLORY THROUGH BAPTISM?” 
Saturday, January 10, 2015

“FULL IMMERSION BAPTISM CELEBRATION!”
Saturday, January 24, 2015

 “RADICAL STORIES OF LIVES CHANGED!”
Saturday, February 14th

Please pray :
  1. Power and freedom in the Holy Spirit as I am writing and speaking.
  2. This week's message on baptism: "What's True and What Is Not?" Will be received and sink deep into the hearts of those God calls.
  3. God GLORY would be revealed and He would hand pick those to be baptized. (The right women for the right reasons.)
  4. SATAN WOULD BE HANDCUFFED AND BOUND from interrupting any part of this series.
  5. No lockdowns or disturbances in the prison. Favor with the officers and staff.
  6. Every Westwood prison team member available would volunteer to come in and help in January. (For interviews and the baptism celebration.) Team unity and protection.
  7. HUNDREDS WOULD CROSS OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE and obey the call to be baptized. I'm praying BIG!

Don't think for one minute that your prayers don't make a difference, we can see and feel how they do. Thank you for your dedication to pray for those forgotten on the fringe of society.


"It just doesn't get any better than this!"


In Him,
Shug Bury



Posted on December 12, 2014 .

"HALLELUJAH!" A NEW PRISON MINISTRY IS OFFICIALLY BORN!




IT'S OFFICIAL!
God has made it clear that a new vision
 for prison ministry is being born.

This new non-profit is finally hatched and registered today:

HALLELUJAH INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES
"Hear The Cry Of The Inmates."



Shouting "Hallelujah" seems to have grown to be my trademark, so it was suggested to me (Thanks Kim W. and team.) that it be used as my new ministry name. 
Thank you to everyone who sent in their creative, funny, well-thought out, ideas and suggestions. 





A BIG thank you to SHINE Ministries www.shineintheworld.org for partnering with me 
and encouraging me to dream BIG!


(See below post for the long-view vision God has placed on my heart.)


"Here I am Lord. Send me!"



Posted on November 12, 2014 .

TIPS: LETTERS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRISONERS

LETTERS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TRAINING

  • Be sure each writing team member has a saving faith, one who is born again and has a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Find out their testimony. Interview them so that the inmates hear from someone who truly knows Jesus. If they do not, this is a good time to share the Gospel with them. As they mature in their faith they can later return to this ministry.
  • Each team member needs to be continually growing in his or her faith through Bible Study, personal quiet time and prayer.You can only lead people as far as you have grown. This is not a ministry for new believers but someone who is mature in Christ.

PROCEDURES FOR PRAYER AND LETTER WRITING:

  1. In-Prison team members will return prayer request cards from the prison to the church. Completed prayer requests are placed in the folder to be divided up by the team leader.
  2. The prayer requests are divided up and bundled with a blank form placed on the top labeled with each team member’s name on it.These prayer requests are private and confidential!
  3. Please complete the form in the proper order.Initial and date the appropriate space and immediately pass it on to the next name on the form. Please place all completed requests, with completion date back into the ministry leaders folder so he/she knows when it was mailed and completed. They also will know how to preach according to the needs of the imates. **Please make every effort to complete within one week from the Prison date.This may be the few times the inmates feel valued and loved.
  4. There are stamps, envelopes and paper provided by the church. The church name and address is the return address on the envelope. Your personal information should remain private. This is all done through the church and its team members.

Tips for successful letter writing:

First of all set aside time to

Pray, Pray, Pray!

THE POWER IS IN THE PRAYER.

Pray

for each inmate and their request, don’t just write them without praying FOR them.

Pray

for wisdom

. Pray

for your words, that they come from the Holy Spirit and pray for the ministry team.

Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you

before

you begin to put pen to paper.

***Important - Please do not write until after you have prayed for their request. Pay attention to what God puts in your mind during prayer.

Do not use fancy words or big theology. Keep it loving and simple using scripture. I recommend you do not use the King James Version of the Bible. Its wording is difficult for inmates to understand. If you were talking to a prostitute on the corner, or a thief or a murderer – how would Jesus relate to them? In love!

Mother Teresa once said:

“I am nothing but a pencil in God’s hand.”

Let God do the writing.

It helps to keep a notebook: listing each prisoner’s name on the top of a blank page so you can keep track of who you have written. Remember, this is confidential, use initials if necessary.

Keep track of the prisoner’s requests including date and the verses that you used to respond.

(Example) John Doe or John D.

Date:

Her/His Request:

My Response:

Bible Verse given:

9/27/14

Pray for his court hearing.

Trust in the Lord, he is not alone.

John 14:27

Write CLEARLY. Some inmates have difficulty reading and have bad eyesight. These cards most likely are first read by the officers for security. Keep it simple and loving, guiding them through scripture alone. DO NOT GIVE ADVICE!

Carefully print

the name and ID on the envelope.

  • Keep your letter brief, yet thoughtful.
  • Do not ever use a form letter, write each letter personally.
  • Do not lecture, scold or advise, only encourage them to seek the Lord.
  • Do not share any of your personal information about your family, address, city or phone number.
  • Do not let the inmates contact you personally. Tell them it is against policy.
  • ***Do not become emotionally attached to the inmate or let an inmate become attached to you. If you are a male writing to a female, we use a fake woman’s name as the author instead. Same for men. Use only your first name and use the same name each time.
  • Close each letter with a “positive attitude” encouraging them to trust God and close using ONLY your first name.

Tips on what to write:

Ask God to help you set time aside each week to serve God in this ministry.

Please do not rush this because of lack of time.

Please commit yourself to learning scripture, pick up a “quick scripture reference” book to help you locate appropriate scripture.

A “Topical Bible” is very helpful or you can look in the back of your Bible for page numbers by topic.

***

I cannot emphasize enough, you will learn of some of their crimes and sin,

PLEASE DO NOT teach, lecture or counsel

but let’s love them using only God’s Word. We want them to seek the Lord, rhey will find out soon enough in scripture.

We want to encourage them to attend prison church as well begin Bible Studies that may already be happening inside of the prison.

In some prisons, they can request a donated Bible from the Chaplain, Pastor or Director if they don’t have one. Ask the churches to donate Bibles.

Please direct them to read the Bible, but they don’t have to start at the beginning. They will become frustrated if they do. Have them start with John or Mark then move on to Acts in the New Testament. They can begin to share now with other’s what God has done for them in their life.

I believe

you have been hand picked

by God

to carry out this important ministry.

By taking this responsibility seriously, we are reflecting our “high view” of God.

These inmates wait daily for a response to their request, many feel rejected and alone.

They are in desperate need of prayer and a friend. Lets not keep them waiting any longer!

Matthew 25: 36, 40

Tells us working with prisoners is really serving Jesus himself…

“You visited me…you did it for me.”

This should motivate us to stay faithful and consistent, to write notes joyfully, and to keep healthy boundaries emotionally.

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR PRISON MINISTRY


When I came to you... my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the spirit's power. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4




AS A LEADER - IS IT ALL ABOUT GOD AND NOT ABOUT YOU? ARE YOU SURE?

This thought is against the grain of society isn't it? Don't assume prison ministry is for you. It saddens me to see individuals and teams lose their focus of who they are serving... Jesus Christ. They cannot figure out why their teams are falling apart, disintegrating before their eyes and losing impact for God's Kingdom. 

I have seen team members bring suggestions that fall on the deaf ears of arrogant prison ministry leaders. Team members become frustrated and feel useless and unwanted if they have suggestions that are not considered. At times God prompts improvements or excellence through the team. We are the body of Christ. Are you the leader who prefers the "same ol' same ol" method of doing things that you've always done? My friends, be in prayer for how God is molding your ministry. Remember, we are to shepherd, lead and encourage team members as well as the inmates.

A true leader surrenders to God in prayer, listens for feedback (it is your friend) and trusts the Holy Spirit's leading to do what is right for the prison ministry.

Too often misguided people are all too consumed with whose names appear on the ministry title? Who are the team leaders? Who gets to teach and who is in charge? Some of them want to be up front and center, yet their spiritual gifting is behind the scenes helping one-on-one. PRIDE comes before the fall.

First pride, then the crash - the bigger the ego, the harder the fall!   Proverbs 16:17-18 (Message)



DYSFUNCTIONAL TEAMS CAN KILL A MINISTRY:

When I coach ministry teams my go-to phrase is... "Have you prayed specifically on this?" Prayer is the beating heart for any ministry. Remove prayer and I promise you pride and self-ambition start growing like a weed in the ministry.  Through prayer, it is amazing to watch God naturally "weed-out" and frustrate the people whose intentions are self-focused instead of God-focused. My prayer is that you are able rise up and shepherd them correctly so their divisiveness doesn't become contagious choking off and killing the ministry.

God assigns places of spiritual ministry and leadership in His sovereign will. When we become empty of self and dependent on God the Holy Spirit will use us.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Mark 10:43-44




HOW NOT TO JUDGE CRIMINALS WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN JUDGED:


"Let's talk God!" Before my first trip into a women's prison, God and I had to have a serious conversation. Some of these women have committed acts I couldn't even imagine.


"God, you have called me to this ministry. Please give me your heart and enable me to see them the way you do. Show me how to love these women unconditionally. I cannot do it alone without your help."

I have interviewed over 250 female inmates in various correctional facilities. I asked them what they need to see, hear and experience at a prison church service in order for the majority of the prison to want to attend?  One of the top requests was:  To send in people who do not judge them or talk down to them.

One inmate's perspective: 
"I feel like I have a sign on my forehead with big letters that says CONVICT". "Even church people make me feel unwanted." "One preacher used to talk down to us and get up in our face, telling us to shut up."


Heart attitude test question:
If Jesus were standing in front of you, how would you treat Him? Are you treating these women the same way? What is your real heart attitude before you attend and when you leave? We should be treating these women the same way we would treat our Lord. With our very best!


The following are a few suggestions that have been helpful for our teams before entering prison


  1. To refrain from judgmental thoughts and actions you must be bathed in prayer.
  2. Confess your own sins privately to God.
  3. Ask for forgiveness for your own sins, thoughts and past judgements.
  4. Ask for help and power from the Holy Spirit, not to judge but love all who enter. (This is impossible in our own power.
  5. Love them unconditionally with God's love.
  6. Allow them to feel special. Greet them individually, thanking them for attending.
  7. Smile and look at them in the eye. (It might be the only one they receive all day.)
  8. Have some fun and laugh together.
  9. When speaking one on one with them, listen to them intently like they are the only one in the room.
  10. Be prepared! - God wants to "love 'em up" - through you!


Prisoner's sins are no worse than ours...  just illegal. We all need God's love and forgiveness.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much...
Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."     Luke 7:47-50





Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: THIS IS A SPIRITUAL WARFARE! Is Your Dysfunctional Team KILLING Your Ministry?

DYSFUNCTIONAL TEAMS CAN KILL A MINISTRY:

When I coach ministry teams my go-to phrase is... "Have you prayed specifically on this?" The more specific your prayers, the more specifically God answers.

Prayer is the beating heart for any ministry. Remove prayer and I promise you pride and self-ambition start growing like a noxious, choking weed in the ministry.  Through prayer, it is amazing to watch God naturally "weed-out" and frustrate the people whose intentions are self-focused instead of God-focused. 

Satan always comes up where we least expect it. He will come up through the middle of the ministry. Infighting, jealously, suspicion,  usually working through trusted sources and when you least expect it. 

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Be on guard and train up your teams to come to you first if they have an issue. Be open, thankful they approached you and listen. If they have an issue, recommend that they come with a suggestion on how to fix the problem as well. 

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause and defile many. 

An evil root can grow up quickly inside of a team. Train your team members to deal with and confront bitterness immediately. You should be prepared to deal with it confidentially if needed and with love!

My prayer is that you are able rise up and shepherd them correctly so their divisiveness doesn't become contagious, choking off and killing the ministry. Satan then has you right where he wants you. Forgive and love each other quickly and deeply.

God assigns us in places of spiritual ministry and leadership according to His sovereign will. When we become empty of self and dependent on God, the Holy Spirit will use us mightily for his noble purposes.

You are not only leading a prison ministry, you are shepherding your team as individuals with biblical excellence. Don't waste the experience of suffering and trials as you do prison ministry. Learn from it.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Need leadership help? Just ask...

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: THE THREE P'S OF PRISON MINISTRY - How To Embrace Who You Are?

KNOW AND EMBRACE YOURSELF:

I love to tell the inmates that God has created each one of them perfectly. They are not a mistake nor are they an accident. God does not make mistakes nor does he make copies. We should all embrace the three P's of how we were created.


  1. YOU have a perfect PERSONALITY:  Are you shy? Are you quiet? Are you bold? Are you loud? Embrace who you are for God has made your personality perfect. Why? To go with your...
  2. PASSION:  When you close your eyes and dream BIG... what do you see? I always get energized with crowds of people. The more people the better. Others enjoy smaller groups or one on one. Which are you? God places a passion on your heart to glorify Him. This is not a passion for yourself, but a passion (almost like a burden) for others in a certain area. My passion is Prison Ministry. Yours may be children, teens, medicine etc. We now know your Personality goes perfect with your Passion... to fulfill your...
  1. PURPOSE: God has given each one of us a purpose in life. This purpose at times has a season or time-frame to it. perhaps he is training you during this season of life for the next grander purpose he has for your life. Do not rush God, for he has a plan and a purpose for your life. God has trained me through decades for a "time such as this." Allow God to train you now for the next season of your life. Pray you will fulfill His purpose for your life by using your God given PERSONALITY, PASSION AND PURPOSE.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: ARE YOU GIVING THESE INMATES YOUR VERY BEST?

SEND IN YOUR VERY BEST! 
Prison ministry is not a place to practice but to sharpen your people and your message.

Incarcerated men and women are hungry for God. Maybe for the first time they are sober, alert and ready for the Good News of Jesus Christ. I've seen firsthand, inmates frustrated and never return to a church service because they cannot relate to or understand the speaker.

I was in a prison where the speaker didn't know a common childhood Bible story. She had a heavy accent and was very difficult to understand. If the teacher has substantially less Bible knowledge than the inmates, THIS IS NOT the place for him or her.

On the other extreme, I have heard speakers talk way over the inmate's heads. Using theological terms without explanation - terms such as "propitiation, sanctification, justification" - these are important terms if we explain them. We only have a short amount of time to concentrate our words to make an impact in their lives.  If you don't use these terms everyday, ask yourself if it is necessary? Then I'd advise you thoroughly explain it as you teach. Keep the message simple, easy to understand, with scripture broken down and explained.

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: IS GOD CALLING YOU TO PRISON MINISTRY?

PRAYER... ARE YOU LISTENING TO GOD? 

Is God calling you to Prison Ministry? Prison ministry is not a place of "that's good enough" warm bodies, but "hand-picked servants."

Often times God calls us to prison ministry years before it actually happens. I remember God calling me to preaching years before my training and first opportunity. Sometimes I think (I know in my case) he calls us and matures our character during the years of waiting... he puts us in places of training for future ministries. Don't waste a moment in serving where you are at - it is building upon your character for greater kingdom impact.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you. John 15:16



Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: ARE YOU THE RIGHT LEADER FOR PRISON MINISTRY?

AS A LEADER - IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD AND NOT ABOUT YOU. 

This thought is against the grain of society isn't it? Don't assume prison ministry is for you. Remember, God has a plan for your life. It saddens me to see individuals and teams lose focus because of pride. Who are they serving? Themselves or Jesus Christ? They cannot figure out why their teams are falling apart, disintegrating before their eyes and losing impact for God's Kingdom. Turn around, is anyone following you?

I have seen prison team members bring suggestions that fall on the deaf ears of arrogant prison ministry leaders. Team members become frustrated and feel useless and unwanted if they have suggestions that are not considered. At times God prompts improvements or excellence through the team. We are the body of Christ. Are you the leader who prefers the "same ol' same ol" method of doing things that you've always done? Is it easier? Is it less work? My friends, be in prayer for how God is molding your ministry. Remember, we are to shepherd, lead and encourage team members as well as the inmates.

A true leader surrenders to God in on-going prayer. Listens for feedback (it is your friend) and trusts the Holy Spirit's leading to do what is right for the prison ministry. 

Leaders of excellence are open to God massaging the ministry into HIS vision and then they act on it. Prison ministry needs a leader who is a visionary. The team should be built on a grand vision to accomplish God's goals. If the leader is a task oriented leader, more interested in the details, then he or she should remain on the team but trust God to pull forth the visionary for the broad large spectrum picture. A visionary leader is always looking for new horizons on God's vision. Then builds the team with task oriented people to go forth to do what needs to be done to accomplish this vision. 

Be patient, it may not happen all at once. But God will build according to His purposes. Pray, trust and obey.

Too often misguided leaders and team members are all too consumed with whose names appear on the ministry title? I want to lead something? I want to teach!  I want to be in charge! Some want to be up front and center, yet their spiritual gifting is really behind the scenes helping one-on-one. God has a special purpose for each of our lives... are you sure it is prison ministry?

This is God's ministry. Some of the best leaders are humble, servant leaders. Pride comes before the fall, so we each better look honestly at ourselves before God humbles us himself.

First pride, then the crash - the bigger the ego, the harder the fall!   Proverbs 16:17-18 (Message)

Pray for God to bring the right leaders and team members to come into your prison ministry. If you pray for this, trust me, God will provide.
Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: YOUR GOSPEL MESSAGE-Hell's Best Kept Secret?

KEEP IT SIMPLE, BOLD AND FULL OF LOVE! 

I will never forget what the director of a large USA Christian rehabilitation center for addictions said to me. He was introducing himself to me for the first time and he viewed me as this petite, little blonde woman. "Shug, I cannot emphasize enough, we need to speak directly and boldly to our clients. We have little time to reach them - the more direct the better." I had to chuckle to myself, because little did he know that is exactly how God has wired me.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  Ephesians 6:19 

I have "method" for sharing the Gospel message that I have given many times in many different countries. It is not mine, I have borrowed it from a wonderful evangelism source. It is called "Hell's Best Kept Secret?" by Way of the Master founder Ray Comfort. www.wayofthemaster.com  Feel free to Google it and study it. They have video to watch, audio to listen to and a pdf file of the words they use. It also is available in a variety of languages. It is a simple and easy way to share the Gospel... the same way Jesus did it in the Bible.

I have used this simple method, mixed with my own message from far away places such as Italy - Israel - Africa and the USA. It works! Feel free to combine this simple method of evangelism with your own stories and illustrations. If you are speaking to someone for the first time one-on-one on the street. this method works. If you are in prison in front of thousands of people, this method works. In prisons, I like to role-play and bring inmates up so we can all get involved. I cannot emphasize enough, to laugh and have fun with sharing the Gospel. Chuld be contagious and full of joy. Laughter is rare to find in prisons. Christianity should be contagious and full of joy. 

Double check with the local prison pastor or director that this method of evangelism has not been used in your area. You can always use the main thought and mix it in with your own custom message like I do.  Most of all, keep it fun, simple and full of God's truth for all to understand.


You may have only one chance to reach someone for Christ. Be prepared and ready to share the Gospel in a fun and engaging way.

I would now like to address some forms of preaching that I have seen that go over most people's heads. To be in prison preaching is not our chance to show how much theology we know. Instead, be like Jesus Christ, who kept it simple, using common everyday illustrations and full of love. 

Ask yourself: "If this one inmate, only came once to listen to the Gospel message, would this one theological term help transform their life?" I believe in preaching the whole truth of God's Word - but in simple easy to understand everyday terms. Simply said... the simpler the better.

I once saw a Bible teacher in a USA prison get up into one of the inmates faces for talking and begin yelling at her.  Did we forget that there are gangs with dignity to be kept amongst the inmates? Is that what Jesus would do? Whoa... I can tell you as a woman, do not ever talk down to or embarrass us...  Have you ever heard of the phrase "Speak to the hand!"... done.

Remember, God deserves our best. Jesus calls us to love each other. Here is a quote that we all should live by: "LET'S GET THE LOVE THING RIGHT." We don't want the inmates to stumble over us on their way to Jesus. I urge you to only be full of God's truth and full of His love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God; and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

God calls us to love one another. If we are putting God first in our lives, loving others will naturally pour out of us through His Spirit.

When I came to you... my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the spirit's power. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4
Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

TIPS: HOW NOT TO JUDGE CRIMINALS WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN JUDGED?

HOW NOT TO JUDGE CRIMINALS WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN JUDGED?

"Let's talk God!" Before my first trip into prison, God and I had to have a serious conversation. Some of these inmates have committed acts I couldn't even imagine.

"God, you have called me to this ministry. Please give me your heart and enable me to see them the way you do. Show me how to love these individuals unconditionally. I cannot do it alone without your help."

I have interviewed hundreds of inmates in various correctional facilities. I asked them what they need to see, hear and experience at a prison church service in order for the majority of the prison to want to attend?  One of the top requests was:  "To send in people who do not judge them or talk down to them."

One inmate's perspective: 
"I feel like I have a sign on my forehead with big letters that says CONVICT". "Even church people make me feel unwanted." "One preacher used to talk down to us and get up in our face, telling us to shut up."

Heart attitude test question:
If Jesus were standing in front of you, how would you treat Him? Are you treating these people the same way? What is your real heart attitude before you attend and when you leave? We should be treating them the same way we would treat our Lord, with our very best!

The following are a few suggestions that have been helpful for our teams before entering prison

  1. To refrain from judgmental thoughts and actions you must be bathed in prayer.
  2. Confess your own sins privately to God. Your sins are not worse nor no better than their own. A sin is a sin in God's eyes. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
  3. Ask for forgiveness for your own sins, thoughts and past judgements.
  4. Ask for help and power from the Holy Spirit, not to judge but love all who enter. (This is impossible in our own power.
  5. Love them unconditionally with God's love.
  6. Allow them to feel special. Greet them individually, thanking them for attending.
  7. Smile and look at them in the eye. (It might be the only one they receive all day.)
  8. Have some fun and laugh together.
  9. When speaking one on one with them, listen to them intently like they are the only one in the room.
  10. Be prepared! - God wants to "love 'em up" - through you!


Prisoner's sins are no worse than ours...  just illegal. We all need God's love and forgiveness.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2


Christ calls us to love one another unconditionally... Nothing more, nothing less.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.   John 13:34-35
Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under TIPS.

CALLING ALL! - A CHANCE TO USE YOUR VOICE TO HELP OTHER INMATES!



SPEAK UP for those who cannot be heard. I need your past experience to help others in prison. 

Calling ALL! Here is a chance to use your voice to help those who are without one. If you have been jailed or imprisoned, or you have a friend or family member who has been, I need your feedback. Where do you feel there is a GAP in our society and prison system, when it comes to helping freed ex-offenders walk out the door? How can we assist in helping everyone have a successful future? Please be specific, honest and open. Below is a description of the burden God has put on my heart to create a global non-profit that speaks to your concerns. It doesn't matter if it is Africa or America, the cry of the inmates are the same.






I have walked in prison ministry with inmates and ex-cons in the USA for a decade and now in Africa for the past three. I have gotten feedback from police inspectors, chiefs of villages, Bishops, pastors and church leaders. Unfortunately, some watch the freed ex-cons with a suspecting eye expecting them to fail. Many inmates do ok when first released but return to crime because of the judging and rejection. There is a huge GAP that is causing inmates to fail upon being released. There is isolation and judgment that is causing individuals to reoffending or worse - commit suicide after release.  

WHO is waiting for them to help them get back on their feet. Where are the believers of Christ? Where are the churches in all this rehabilitation? Who is waiting for them at the door when they get out? The Bible tells us DO NOT FORGET THE PRISONERS. God has put a burden on my heart to start a non-profit organization to bring awareness to this gap around the globe. This ministry will help bring

prisoners and mentors of excellence together. 

  • Basic Needs: This organization will first meet their basic needs. It will include raising funds to bring needed supplies such as soap, toilet paper, shoes and Bibles into the poverty stricken prisons. 

  • Power-filled Lives: I have witnessed the Almighty power of God move through the prisons. We next need to be sharing the Gospel in a simple, truthful, exciting way in order to bring Spiritual healing and life-changing POWER into their lives. 
  • Expand Awareness: I'd like to bring local area pastors into the prisons themselves to see firsthand the power of God inside of prison. For Bishops, Pastors and church leaders to see their faces and shake hands with the inmates. To care for, and interact with the prisoners. To dispel their fears and see the incarcerated are no different than you or me. GOD LOVES THEM JUST THE WAY THEY ARE!
  • In-Prison Leaders Training: I'd like to create and promote an in-prison leaders training and on-going Bible study for those that are incarcerated for life. So they can be there 24/7 for all who need them. Those in-prison leaders can reach deep with God's love into the darkest corners of the prison itself.
  • Letter Writing Ministry: A Letters of Encouragement division to train those outside who want to help inmates inside. This is done through letter writing and scripture responses to the inmate's prayer requests. 
  • Re-Entry Training: To partner in a re-entry program that provides much needed mentoring/friendship of inmates for their last few months and after incarceration. 
  • Mentoring: Last but not least - inmates around the world are crying out for a non-judgmental friend to walk alongside them to help them get back on their feet and feel welcomed back into society after doing their time. 


NETWORKING WEBSITE: Why reinvent the wheel? Networking is essential! I want to assemble a world-wide web-site that all people who are serving in prison ministry can tap into for ministry support. There will be ideas from other parts of the world and links to prison organizations with contact information that may be close to them. A networking website for all to contribute their successes, failures and much needed support. What works and what doesn't?

I had a chance on my last day to meet with a few leaders in Nairobi that I had met before this trip. One was following my limited blog for training and is doing a powerful women's prison ministry, the other is working with juveniles and their families in prison ministry. They both felt they are on their own, desperate for any training and ministry ideas in Africa. In the USA we are blessed in abundance. Let's pass it on!


Please put your thinking caps on… I could also use your name ideas for this non-profit. Something edgy, yet something that crosses cultural boundaries. (For example: Rock'n The Rebels doesn't work because Rock'n isn't understood in Africa.) Let's throw a few names on the wall and see what sticks. 

What speaks to you? 

"Now is your chance to make a difference in the lives of those without a voice."

Lets allow God to mold and create this ministry together… Time is short, let's not waste it.



Shug



Posted on October 19, 2014 .

A FREIGHT TRAIN COMES THROUGH THE PRISON!

In our last prison visit, we had the Holy Spirit literally come through the prison like a FREIGHT TRAIN. This is what supernaturally happened

I was preaching on "God Speaks" at the end of the book of Job. We were about 1/4 way into the message and I was summarizing the earlier chapters of Job. (For the new people in attendance.) I talked about how Job suffered and was stricken with boils… we aren't told in the Bible what skin disease Job had. It was painful and he would scrap them with broken pottery. He could have had Aids, Psoriasis, maybe Leprosy? Leprosy… I have seen leprosy. I shared in detail how I prayed for a leper during my last trip to Africa. (See picture below.) 



"The leper first came through the marketplace begging for money. People pushed him out of the way like an old dog. I couldn't help it, I was drawn to him like a magnate. I had an overwhelming love for him. None of the locals would interpret for him. Determined, I went to him and asked how I could pray for him, acting out my words with my hands. He proceeded to show me his club hands, deformed feet, and oozing skin. He could hardly stand and walked bent over with a cane. His face looked young but his crippled body looked centuries old."
IMG_5224.JPG

"I didn't know if or when the leper would be healed, but what I did know is that if it was part of God's will, it would happen! I prayed loudly for him so that the rest of those gathering in the marketplace could hear that healing happens in the power of the name of Jesus Christ. After the prayer, the crowd was multiplying quickly and we were hustled out of the marketplace by our interpreter. I departed not knowing if the man was healed by God or not?"


The next day, one of our teams came back excited from conducting open-air preaching. "Shug, Shug!" "You'll never believe who came to our event? The leper you prayed for in the marketplace! He came forward and received Jesus as his Lord and Savior!"
Ground View Frieght Train.jpg
The inmates listening started to applaud… I then boldly exclaimed; "Jesus Christ wants to heal each of us Spiritually. Like the seven lepers in the Bible, they believed first and then walked in obedience and became physically healed!"


THAT'S WHEN THE FREIGHT TRAIN CAME THROUGH THE PRISON! The Holy Spirit plowed through the auditorium with such force, that I felt I had to hold on to the chair to keep from being bowled over. Many inmates stood up spontaneously and began shouting and praising God. Others, had eyes wide open amazed at what they were seeing. Prisoners lifting their hands up and standing - receiving Jesus as their Lord… because of the POWERFUL presence of the Holy Spirit Himself in the room. Many of us were literally shaking and weak in the knees from what we had witnessed. We were on Holy ground!

Of course, because of this event, Satan was aroused. You could feel the darkness of the enemy lurking around causing minor disruptions during the following second service. Yet, God prevailed! The team estimated around 120 women in all stood up and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. (Is it coincidence? That is the same number that gathered together at Pentecost in the book of Acts 1:15.)

The entire team was in AWE of the power of our Almighty God. WOW! What's next Lord? 

PLEASE PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

  1. We are beginning our next service with time set-aside for the inmates (and team) to share what they experienced. Please pray that the women and our team will glorify Jesus Christ by sharing what they had witnessed and felt that day.
  2. Pray that the testimony of others and the blood of the Lamb will bring unbelievers to repentance and surrender to Christ.
  3. The Holy Spirit will continue to "steam" through the prison and create Spiritual Healing for all!
  4. Protection for myself and our team and our families from the enemy. 
  5. After testimonies, we will close with our final chapter of Job. Please pray the women will walk in obedience and be doubly blessed like Job.

One team member and myself thought the best analogy was that the Holy Spirit came through like a FREIGHT TRAIN. It didn't feel like a gentle breeze, it didn't feel like a flowing river, it felt like a physical full steam freight train charging through the prison. Wow!

"It just doesn't get any better than this!"


All For His Glory!
Shug

Posted on September 25, 2014 .

PRISON WAR CRY: CLAIM BACK WHAT IS YOURS!

ARMOR-UP PRAYER WARRIOR!


My knuckles are white from clinching, when I think about the holy War Cry I am going to preach on in prison this weekend. 

"WAR CRY - CLAIM BACK WHAT IS YOURS!"



"RAK CHAZAK!" This has been the mighty war cry of all generations of the Hebrew nation. A cry that ignited all people to go into battle.


(This message was inspired by Eric Ludy, Ancient War cry.)


"Rak Chazak = In Hebrew this is the rock like "OOMPH" of the spiritually zealous heart."


  • The game face of a mighty warrior
  • Tenacity of the soul
  • The gritting of the teeth of the spirit inspired warrior
  • and bearing those teeth to the enemy
  • Possessing a resolute and growling resolve for the GLORY OF GOD!
  • A tensing of all soldiers muscles...
"RAK CHAZAK! Where is our war cry?"

"We don't even know we are living in hostile territory. This isn't a time of peace, that is yet to come."


These inmates are now in for a spiritual battle. Why?
  1. After receiving Christ as their Savior
  2. Being publicly baptized
  3. They need to be trained up in Spiritual Warfare 
(I recently used a similar message last Sunday evening at MN Adult and Teen Challenge Family Ministry Event.- God's Spirit was overwhelming as He moved through and convicted over 300 souls!)



"WILL YOU JOIN ME ON THE FRONT LINES OF THIS BATTLE?"
  • Please pray that the inmates will armor up and realize this battle is not against their families, courts, police or drugs. That they stop being the victim, and get some "Spiritual Street Smarts" ...This battle is spiritual against the principalities and powers of Satan.
  • Pray Satan will be bound from using them like puppets. 
  • Pray they will realize Christ's Spirit in them is far greater than he who is in the world.
  • Pray they will put on their armory of heaven. (Ephesians 6 - Armor)
  • Pray they will memorize verses and use them as weapons against Satan.
  • Pray in turn, they will pray in the spirit  - for guidance, victory and discernment.
  • Pray they will put legs to their faith and live victoriously AS REDEEMED PEOPLE IN CHRIST!
  • Pray IN CHRIST they will... CLAIM BACK THEIR LIFE, CLAIM BACK THEIR PURPOSE, CLAIM BACK THEIR FAMILIES!


"We are in a position here, to see souls set free!" Imagine what will happen, if Christians take up their battle cry once again to get Rak Chazak!" 

personally need your prayers of protection for the spiritual warfare that can rage against my marriage, children, ministry, finances and health. Because Satan is going down!


WHERE IS YOUR WAR CRY? "RAK CHAZAK!"




Serving Shoulder to Shoulder with you.
Shug


Posted on February 21, 2014 .

IT WAS THE "SUPERBOWL" OF PRISON BAPTISMS!

I stand in awe of the power of Jesus Christ. There is indeed a revival going on in prison. All baptisms should have this type of celebration.

IT WAS LIKE THE SUPERBOWL. There was clapping and shouting, what a celebration!


I am reminded of Malachi 3 where the floodgates were opened and the blessings from heaven overflowed. The prison gym was transformed, there were flickering plastic candles, drying mats that lined the area and fresh flower pots that surrounded the large baptismal tub. We placed the chairs in a U-shape around the tub for all to witness.


Wow, every prayer lifted was answered. We held two back-to-back services and baptized "full immersion" 70 inmates. Because of prayer and persistence, this was the FIRST EVER immersion baptism in this prison. The Prison Chaplain was extremely happy how the team organized it and brought it all together. God worked it seamlessly. It was absolutely beautiful...

One Prison Team member who held the I.D. badges for the inmates while they were being baptized, describes her experience. 
"As I was holding their badge I would look at their prison photo and see either an angry, sad, or scared face. I was in awe as I watched the baptism experience change the reality of their faces. When they were immersed for the baptism it like a silvery liquid flowing over their faces and they rose up now beautiful, happy and so different from their prison badges."

Amazing! As I helped each woman in the tub, there was a mix of emotions. Some were nervous, some scared, others crying. I gently whispered... 
"Enjoy the moment, Jesus has been waiting for you." 
You could see the Holy Spirit just drape them at that moment in peace. When they professed their faith in Jesus Christ, the crowd went NUTS with cheering and applause for each woman. At the conclusion of their baptism, you could see the relief on their faces when I reminded them; 
"Your old life is gone, buried in baptism. You are washed and resurrected a NEW WOMAN in Christ. Now GO, and live a life victorious in Christ." 


All 200 witnesses throughout both services were cheering, clapping, celebrating and shouting "Hallelujah!" at each woman's baptism.
I wish you could have seen it! You could feel Christ's love resonate throughout the prison. 



At the conclusion of both services, I offered an opportunity for the witnesses to receive Christ through a prayer of salvation. We again had a front row seat to watch many more inmates cross over from death to life. Several inmates came up to me afterwards asking; 
"Shug, when is the next baptism, I want to be baptized in Christ!" 


It just doesn't get any better than this!


Lord, I am available anytime, anywhere in the world to help prepare hearts and do this again!




Shug
Posted on February 21, 2014 .

PRISON "FULL IMMERSION" BAPTISM

Dear Friend,

Have you felt the excitement that has been building in prison? We have held a two-part series that went into detail regarding baptism and sharing your testimony. We have 70 courageous, power filled women who will be "taking the plunge" and be baptized on Saturday January 25th from 6:40-8:40 p.mOnly God could create such a hunger for restoration.

I wish you could have witnessed it in prison last time... 

After the message, 70 hands raised high wanting to be baptized. Then those women met one-on-one with a team member spread throughout the gym. Each person guided by questions from the team member, fully understanding and confessing their belief in Christ. (The Westwood team interviewed each women wanting to be baptized to be sure they understood the meaning of baptism and that they had received Jesus as their Savior.) In the background, the worship team played beautifully as the remaining women worshipped.


I would confidently say, thanks to your prayers, God is creating a REVIVAL in Shakopee Prison. "Hallelujah!"

We now need you more than ever to intercede on our behalf, for our families, for the baptism celebration and for the women.

Please pray in "PRAISE" ahead of time for all that God has done and will do.

  1. Thank you Lord we get to conduct a FULL IMMERSION baptism using Westwood's portable tub. 
  2. Thank you Lord for a smoothly run evening, set-up, tear-down and a God orchestrated baptism celebration. That it will indeed be a celebration! (Pray the t
    ub do
    esn't have any issues and we have enough time for all 70 to be baptized at both services.)
  3. We praise you for your Holy Spirit's presence to be felt by each person in attendance.
  4. Lord, please hand invite each person - that those unsaved will come to witness the POWER of baptism and be saved themselves.
  5. Pray against the enemy, that he will be unable to use any warfare against our families, ourselves, nor our entire prison team (including you) and any of the baptized women. 
  6. Favor from the prison staff with no disruptions.
  7. PRAY GOD'S NAME WILL BE GLORIFIED IN THIS SERVICE AND THROUGHOUT THE PRISON!


Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you have granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given Him. John 17:1-2 


I am in awe of our heavenly father. Let's pray boldly and in praise ahead-of-time!

It just doesn't get any better than this!

Shug
Posted on January 22, 2014 .