OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Prison is a place of R and R -- repentance and rehabilitation.
Inmates will tell you, faith-based services nourish the soul.
“I felt free inside and I’m thankful for the services that come in here,” one inmate said.
But an unforeseen enemy has turned all prison pews temporarily silent.
“When the coronavirus hit and the agency had to restrict all volunteers from coming in to protect their safety, we lost the vast majority of our religious services and programs,” ODOC Chaplain Leo Brown said.
The Department of Corrections contacted Crossings Community Church for help.
“Obviously volunteers can’t go in right now, so we are honored to step up our game a little bit,” Prison Ministry Director Jeremiah Braudrick said.
Prior to the pandemic, Crossings volunteers and church services were already inside one prison. Now, they are expanding their reach statewide. The church is donating and delivering state-of-the-art technology to 22 Oklahoma prisons. This will enable Crossings to provide faith and worship services during the temporary lockdown.
Jermemiah and Bulldog sidekick, Ginger are covering every corner of this great state.
“The bible says God works for the good for those who love Him,” Braudrick said. “We are seeing that with the virus we didn’t see coming. He opened doors we didn’t even know were available.”
This week, more than $150,000 in video projectors, sound systems and DVD players began rolling in. It is an answered prayer for the Department of Corrections.
“Some of our prisons only had a DVD player and 32-inch TV,” Brown said.
The gear is portable, allowing staff to bring audio and video church services of ALL faiths to the inmates.
“It makes a world of difference when you’re locked down in a cell with nothing to do,” one inmate said. “The guys need hope, something to look forward to and I think that’s a great way to do it. I think it’s going to make a big difference.”
Amidst this pandemic, Crossings Community Church is delivering a renewed sense of hope.
“Everyone needs hope and that strength provided by faith,” Brown said. “This is a way to receive that and grow.”
There is empirical evidence volunteers and faith-based programs are pivotal in reducing recidivism.
“We all messed up and have mistakes in our past,” Braudrick said. “And we’ll make more in the future but God loves us all the same.”
When no one else can get in, faith just might be the remedy.