Well, I used to visit Coffee Creek Correctional Facility many years ago, when Grace Community started their prison ministry… (’01?) When we moved to Medford, I had to uproot from that ministry, but the Lord gave me a really cool opportunity to revisit, now that we’re back in the NW. A few nights ago, I went with 3 others from Grace (now Horizon) Community Church, to be a part of and witness their annual baptism service. I had to remember the dress code: NO blue or red clothing. No jeans. No shorts above the knee. No jewelry, No flip flops & No under-wire bras.
What a wonderful time it was. My friend, Mary even asked me if I wanted to help baptize the last few gals (I think she was getting tired!); it was my first time doing that – very, very cool experience! I sure wish they’d let us bring cameras in. God did an amazing work out there in the courtyard of that women’s prison. I was teary, and lifting my hands in praise…especially after each time a lady came up out of the water, and when I realized how many of them accepted Christ and wanted to follow Him for the rest of their lives.
For details, Beth Yancy wrote a report about what happened:
We had such a wonderful baptismal service at prison last night.
inmates attending = 40; ministry team = 4; salvations = 8; baptisms= 16
It was a beautiful, warm evening last night in the outdoor worship center at Coffee Creek. Mary Dirksen and Chelan Russ joined the team to lead in worship. Megan, our guitar player, had an emergency at the last minute, so all our singing was a capella. All our voices praising the Lord was a wonderful way to usher in the Lord’s presence.
We had held a baptismal class last month, and 8 inmates had signed up to be baptized. Six showed up, one had to work, and one was reportedly sent “to the hole” (maximum security for bad behavior). Many more showed up who wanted to be baptized. Chaplain had told us there would be a couple extras, so I planned to meet with them prior to the service and do a “mini” class. Since there were so many, I decided to do a baptismal review along with encouragement from 1 Peter 2:9 in my message. We clearly explained what it means to make Jesus Lord of your life, choose to follow only Him the rest of your days and enjoy the benefits of being brought out of the darkness into His wonderful light.
When we prayed for salvations at the end of the message, about 8 ladies responded. I was a little surprised, as some of them had towels with them and were obviously anticipating being baptized. It’s a little tricky in prison because they want to do whatever they can to gain attention and stand out. I do think these were genuine conversions though, as there were many tears of repentance and the Holy Spirit was moving.
We then sent around a sign-up for ladies who agreed with our criteria that they are now true followers of Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized. Ten others signed up.
While we baptized the 16, the others all stood around cheering, hugging and giving encouragement when each one was baptized. Some of our regular attendee were surprised at some of the baptisms, because they had just made commitments for the Lord that night and no one else knew. They were all kind of amazed and definitely celebrating the goodness of God. It was glorious.
We closed by praying for one of our regular attendees who was also baptized and will be released before our service next month. She was in tears all night as the Holy Spirit was moving. We sang another hymn, and then encouraged them to look around to see who other believers were who could pray and walk with them.
One interesting conversation I had was with one of the lesbian gals who had walked out of service two months ago. She was all smiles and told me about her Pentecostal baptism in a creek as a child…
…I’m still rejoicing at the goodness of God,