January 2019 Newsletter

Hello friends,

I pray 2019 is starting off well for you. I am feeling extremely blessed as I write this. This year marks 25 years since I began going into a Municipal Jail here in Kansas City that housed about 300 men and women. I went with some other men from my local church and very quickly new this was a place God had led me to.

This year also marks seventeen years since I left my secular job, started The Keys and a wonderful adventure. This newsletter would be much too long if I even tried to share all the amazing things God has let me do, the myriad of people who have worked along with me through the years and the lives of so many men and women He has let us make contact with.

There are hundreds of men and women we have drawn near to through the years. Some died tragically because of the lifestyles they could not break free of. As is always true there are those who we poured ourselves into, but they seemingly could never firmly grasp the magnitude of God’s amazing grace. They continue to go in and out of incarceration while struggling with sin issues that keep them in the weeds. Some have been released and moved on to places where we have lost touch. Then there are many that we have known since they were incarcerated, 10, 15, even 20 years ago who are living their lives in service to our Savior and we still see regularly. Many of them are members of one or another of the local churches we are connected with.

Our mission statement from the beginning has been, “Our mission is to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ to those under the supervision of our prison systems. We will present them with biblical tools by which they might grow in Christ and begin to reach their community for him.” But, through all the years, and all the many things we have done, successfully supplying them those tools is challenging. The environment and the limitations put on us pertaining to how we interact with inmates is limiting. I have always tried to stress to our group that we should try to keep discipleship in mind while preparing to speak. We have never been a group that was about preaching salvation messages exclusively and counting noses.

So, in another effort to try and supply those tools for growth we have recently we have begun a new aspect of our ministry. Graceway Church is helping us by taking a book of 18 Discipleship Lessons they have, entitled Directions, and breaking them out into nicely packaged individual lessons. Each lesson is designed to be done by the disciple/student over a five-day period and then meet back with the mentor/teacher. What we have done is recruit some men to mail the lessons to chosen inmates and then receive letters back with questions and comments. We will then all meet, pray over the process and any requests the inmates may have, then our guys will write them back and send along the next lesson. We are very excited about this and ask you pray for much success.

Let me wrap this up with some prayer requests before I lose my readers interest.

  • After 22 years with one company my wife was suddenly let go in October. Her job made up a very significant portion of our income and we had our health insurance through her company as well. She has taken a job that pays her about one quarter of her previous income and we were fairly quickly able to get on COBRA for the next eighteen months. God will provide, but please pray about this.
  • Pray for the members of The Keys team as they travel up and down the highways this winter to the prisons we operate in. There are twenty of us now, including me. Three new men and one lady have joined our team this last year or so.
    • Ron G., Steve B., Zach B., Gary B., Cornelius C., Tom R., Michael R., Chris B., Gene S., Herb N., Herschel C., Steve S., Brian A., Dan S., Paul L., Danny C., Tracie G., Janna W., Cynthia S.
  • Pray for fruit from the labors of these special folks who give so much to reach a group often ignored by society and even the church. Pray that men and women get freed from their spiritual prisons. The keys to get out are at the cross of Jesus Christ!
  • As I have mentioned in previous newsletter, we were blessed to be able to send 1225 very nice Study Bibles into five prisons over the last couple of years. The first three hundred we gave away to any inmate in a particular prison who requested one and was approved to receive one. As you might imagine, these went very quickly. So, the remainder we shipped directly to the Chaplains of these facilities and they each set up a type of structure whereby the inmates might “earn” a Bible. Some did this through memorization of certain passages. Others through attendance to certain ongoing programs. Well, these have not moved out of the Chaplain’s offices as fast as I would like. Please pray that the Chaplains and the inmates would do their part and these Bibles would wind up in the hands of men and women and be a tool God uses to change lives.
  • I hope to be able to send more Study Bibles out to additional prisons in 2019. Please pray with us about that.
  • That spiritual maturity would begin to happen in men’s lives through this discipleship program being done through the mail.
  • As always, I need to remind you, we need your prayers and we need your financial support. Please help us change lives of those behind prison walls and in doing so, their families and communities as well.

In His Grip,

Gene