It has been an honor to be able to serve the men and women at Folsom Prison. When the conversations started about starting this ministry, my thoughts were that of excitement and fear. The excitement in being a partner in ministry with God Behind Bars and their very first prison in California and the fear being the unknown.
The fear was immediately put to rest on our first visit. We all gathered out front and prayed, and I clearly could hear God saying, I am with you. We then walked through the gates and entered the prison. Then the moment came, and we stepped into Greystone Chapel, and we were able to meet the prisoners. Every thought I had was set aside, and they are just like us with a different address. Then after 4 months, I receive this from an inmate:
My name is Lothar, and for the 1st time in years, I can’t wait for Saturday nights! Let me tell you why…church is a good thing. However, they differ in their presentation of the good news. With Bayside I feel absolutely nothing but love. No judgment, no condemnation, just love. That’s what I think Jesus would say…all inclusive, all are welcome. Church has to adapt to the changing times. The goal is to bring, or should I say, to draw out a people who will forever belong to God and live with Him forever. A Bride that is a representation of all people. I believe that Bayside embodies all of the character and attributes of Jesus and it would be a privilege and honor for me to come to Bayside when I parole. You may be big, but your love is personal…I feel it…I believe it… from every volunteer that walks through those doors at Greystone chapel. I thank God and as the song goes…I can’t wait for what God will do next! Thank you Bayside.
Needless to say, we were humbled by Lothar’s words. And this is just one of the dozens of stories of life change coming out of Folsom Prison. The guards tell us that violence and other disruptions are down. And we’re finding attendance of our services is up. We’re amazed at all that God has done so far, and we eagerly look forward to our services each week. More stories to come!
Director of Local Outreach
Today, one of our senior pastors and our worship team are hosting an outreach service live in the prison (usually, our weekend services are shown on video a week later). We will be extending an invitation to them to attend one of four of our Christmas Eve services at the prison later this month. Please join with us in praying for continued life change and for the gospel message to be met with open and eager hearts.