August 2018 Newsletter

Hello friends,

It was February when I last wrote, and a few things have happened that I could update you on. Sue and I are doing very well. In the months of August and September this year we are both turning 60. Hard for me to believe. I am blessed that this beautiful woman has trusted me and walked by my side since we were 18 years old! I won’t say who is older but suffice it to say I enjoy a full month of teasing her. She is still traveling with her job. Nearly every week she leaves on Monday and comes back on Friday. It’s a lifestyle we have grown accustomed to. We look forward to the days when she is home all the time.

The Keys is still going strong. We have eighteen men and women ministering regularly in five facilities. Unfortunately, we have not been allowed to go into one of the facilities for the last three months. As I am sure many of you saw on the news back in May, there was an incident at the Crossroads Correctional Center. CRCC is a maximum-security prison. There are two prisons in Cameron, side by side. A medium and a maximum.  Approximately 4000 men are housed on that hill between the two facilities. After a couple of hundred inmates got unruly the prison went on lockdown and has been ever since. That meant extreme reduction in all movement and activity, therefore suspending things like religious services. Since the most dangerous types of offenders are housed there the Department of Corrections takes safety and security very, very seriously.

Myself, and people who have been part of our team, have been going into this facility regularly since 2002. As you can imagine being “locked out” has been difficult for us. Our guys that go in there now have been beside themselves wanting to get back in. Well, this week I was allowed to go in and make rounds, seeing the inmates through their cell doors. Each Thursday, until the lockdown ends, I will be able to go and talk and pray with many of the 1500 men who are locked in their small cells, two men per cell, nearly twenty-four hours a day. I praise God for the small step forward and look forward to the day when things are back to normal. Normal for prison that is.

Another thing that is different since I last wrote has to do with the work I was doing as Chaplain at the Jackson County Detention Center. Five years ago, this past February, I took the position as Chaplain there overseeing all of the religious programs and volunteers. It was something I did as an extension of our ministry. I started going into jails in 1993 or 1994. The Keys became official in 2002 and that is all I have been doing since then. So, I was excited to bring my experience in Corrections to that jail and help develop solid religious volunteers and services. That went very well for a few years and I was very excited about what God was doing there. However, over the last couple of years that facility has suffered extreme difficulty due to several issues. Bottom line however is that for quite a long time they have been unable to remain sufficiently staffed. This is a serious problem being experienced across our nation. Minimal staff, many of whom may be insufficiently trained new officers, are trying to maintain order in what can be a dangerous situation. These issues led to radical reductions and mass suspensions of all we from the faith community had been doing there. Back in May I determined I could no longer be effective there and left to focus back in the prisons where I have spent most of the last seventeen years. We do have five men that are part of our team at JCDC still going in to distribute Bibles and one does two of the still active Sunday programs. Close brothers of ours from The Midtown Baptist Temple also have a team there on Sunday mornings.

Still with the difficulties I have written about we are still seeing much fruit, particularly at the men’s facility in St. Joseph and the women’s in Chillicothe, MO. Please pray with us for continued open doors. Satan does not want us in there. He doesn’t want to see victory in the lives of these men and women. But God is in the midst and we desire to be used by him to continue the work of evangelism and discipleship.

I am always wordy when I write so let me wrap this up. The final thing I would like to share for now has to do with the Study Bibles we have been able to supply to multiple prisons these last couple of years. I believe the count now is 1,225 nice Scofield Study Bibles we have distributed between six facilities. Praise God for those that help us financially to get the Word inside prison walls!

Gene