Linda and Edrena spent some time in Indiana, and this is Edrena's report of their experiences: The Federal Corrections Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, has maximum-minimum security levels in several different facilities. It also houses death row for men and some of those that are threats to U.S. security. Being a federal facility it is definitely a step up from Texas state prisons generally in many ways. They have a faith-based program with 130 men in which we were able to spend a day.
Linda was able to speak to the U.S. Penitentiary (maximum security) and the Federal Corrections (medium security) on Sunday and tell about her and Karla's story of redemption and forgiveness. She was able to openly share the gospel, and we were able to pray with the men individually. Several received Christ, and others wanted prayer to walk faithfully.
There is no parole to speak of in the federal system, and most of the men are from other parts of the U.S., so they don't receive many visits. Several were from Texas. The chaplains and staff were great!! We do know that there is much more general programming in our units than what is happening there, even though they have eight paid chaplaincy staff for around 3,000 inmates.
On Monday, we toured the faith-based program. It is 18 months, and we will be sharing ideas from it as we process what we can use. They graciously gave us copies of all their curriculum. Linda was able to share the story of forgiveness through Ron Carlson, brother of the lady Karla murdered. It is powerful. We divided into groups with the 130 men and discussed forgiveness. They had never divided into groups like this before.
Since this faith-based group involves any faith, we had Muslim, no faith, Catholic, Protestant and some other faiths there. There was an imam and a retired nun there as mentors as well as the Protestant mentors. Linda did a great job sharing the forgiveness message while speaking under the restrictions of the government. Ron's video spoke much of what we would like to convey for us. The chaplain said these were the best presentations they have ever had.
After this, we were able to share individually with several men and also see some of their classes, including one where they sew hats for kids in hospitals, called Happy Hats. The men gave us a great round of applause as we left them. One of the workers said they had never done this before.
It is only through the prayers lifted up for us and desiring to be faithful to our call and love the ones God has sent us to is this possible. Pray for those men that God's love would transform them and that they would be lights to that place. Also continue to pray for discernment on how to best fulfill our call here.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name give glory, because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.