New Journey, The

A Personal View of Prison Ministry

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Aaron Chancy (Host), Rick Howard


Series Code: TNJ

Program Code: TNJ000070A

00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues.
00:03 Parents are cautioned that some material
00:05 may be too candid for younger children.
00:08 Welcome to the New Journey,
00:10 where you meet real life people with real life testimonies
00:13 and real life working ministries for Jesus.
00:15 I'm your host Aaron Chancy.
00:17 Come join us on The New Journey.
00:49 Welcome to The New Journey.
00:50 We have an exciting program
00:51 that I think you'll find very interesting.
00:54 I want to welcome Mr. Howard to the program.
00:56 Welcome. All right. Thank you.
00:58 Mr. Howard, you were involved in prison ministries
01:01 for a number of years.
01:03 How long were you involved in prison ministries?
01:04 And what motivated you to get involved?
01:06 Okay. I want to share one correction on that.
01:10 I'm still involved in prison ministry.
01:12 Praise the Lord. Okay.
01:13 I have been involved in prison ministries
01:15 for over 30 years.
01:17 I was trying to figure it out but over 30 years.
01:21 But I guess the thing that drew me
01:25 to prison ministry was that people were there.
01:29 Okay. Okay.
01:31 It seemed like a lot of people were in prison,
01:35 had been in prison and someone has to speak to them.
01:39 Okay. Okay.
01:40 Now what is your background for yourself?
01:42 Aside from prison ministries,
01:44 what is your background that eventually led you to that?
01:47 Well, I would have to say that
01:51 it was kind of a different thing for me.
01:53 Because eventually yes,
01:56 I got involved with prison ministry
01:58 and as you know health ministry.
02:01 But what drew me to that was a friend of mine
02:06 had joined prison ministry and invited me
02:09 to become involved but I was already.
02:11 I joined the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1975.
02:15 I was a young college student
02:17 so I decided I was already into Bible study.
02:22 But you yourself, you hadn't been incarcerated
02:24 before with no criminal history...
02:25 Never I've been incarcerated.
02:27 And that's what I find interesting is
02:28 because you weren't actually living that kind of lifestyle.
02:32 But you had a desire or God gave you that desire
02:35 to work in that aspect.
02:37 And that's what I want you to touch on?
02:39 Well, let's little disclosure, I grew up in the hood
02:43 so I was a breath on by those same people.
02:47 You know, I knew people who were into a lot of things
02:51 and only by the grace of God
02:52 and the strong hand of my mother
02:54 that I did not actually get involved.
02:57 But it was a familiar lifestyle to me.
02:59 Okay. Okay. Definitely. Definitely.
03:00 Now do you think
03:02 or why do you think it's important for people
03:03 to get involved with prison ministries?
03:05 Well, I think that
03:07 if people would really look at it prison is a microcosm.
03:12 It's almost the exact same thing
03:15 that you see on the outside, it goes on there.
03:18 There's drugs. There's, you know, deviant behavior.
03:25 That's true.
03:26 There's all sorts of things, there's corruption,
03:29 there's good people.
03:30 So it's really the same.
03:32 So I think if we looked at it is,
03:35 why are we involved in the world.
03:36 Okay. Okay.
03:38 We're involved in the prison for the same reason
03:40 to reach people that God wants to reach.
03:43 Now for a person especially
03:45 that has not been incarcerated before.
03:48 But they see the need,
03:49 you know, they see the need to go inside of prisons
03:52 to minister to individuals.
03:54 But they have that fear within them.
03:55 They have that fear of actually going behind those gates,
03:59 behind those walls and actually talking to people.
04:02 How can an individual get over that fear
04:05 to actually get into the prison system?
04:08 Well, I think really it's about meeting people
04:12 and not about thinking about the clank of the doors, right.
04:16 I like the way it you put that.
04:18 Right, you know, because it's like telling people
04:22 go out and witness.
04:23 A lot of people are afraid of going out
04:26 and meeting people in general.
04:29 So when you put them in a box to meet people,
04:31 it's just heights to fear, right?
04:34 But really the excitement for me
04:38 was really about meeting those people
04:41 and as I knew some people in different circumstance,
04:46 I think the first time I went to prison was locally.
04:49 I've done state and local prisons
04:54 and halfway houses and other things like that.
04:58 So when I first met people, it was just a rush.
05:01 Because I didn't realize that they would be giving me
05:06 as much as I'm giving them.
05:08 So I think the person
05:10 who is thinking about getting involved
05:12 in prison ministry should understand that
05:15 that you will get as much from going
05:19 and ministering to them as you will give them.
05:22 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
05:23 Now you said you've done some state and some local.
05:27 Where have you done?
05:28 Where have you been at in the prisons?
05:31 What states? What towns, things like that?
05:34 Most of it I think was in Ohio.
05:37 I did some in Indiana a few times
05:40 just kind of as a guest but most of it was in Ohio.
05:44 We did Chillicothe Correctional,
05:47 Ross Correctional, Warren County,
05:51 a lot of jails and halfway houses,
05:55 there are a number of halfway houses.
05:57 And I've done some other things that with juveniles as well.
06:03 So it's been a broad mix of things.
06:06 Now from the 30 plus years of prison ministry
06:08 going into juvenile centers, jails, prisons, halfway houses,
06:12 what have you seen
06:13 as being some of the biggest needs of the inmates?
06:16 Well, I think as we were chatting before,
06:21 you know, I think the prisoners live the same lives.
06:27 They have health concerns.
06:29 They have family concerns and issues.
06:32 Money they worry about.
06:34 Some of them worry about money or what's happening back home.
06:37 So again they don't have any different needs than we do.
06:42 Really they are the same people.
06:44 I think the difference is, if you think about yourself
06:49 and I'm sure you can relate to this.
06:52 When you're in prison
06:54 the difference is the powerlessness
06:57 that most people feel because you can't.
07:00 If my mom was sick and I knew she was sick,
07:04 I could say, "Oh, I got to run over
07:06 and go see my mom."
07:07 If you're incarcerated,
07:08 you just can't get up and pick a phone.
07:10 But if incarcerated, it's just on your mind
07:11 all the time,
07:13 you have to think about it
07:14 and you can do nothing about it.
07:15 So I think that what we do
07:17 as an extension of Christ ministry
07:19 to these people is help them
07:22 have a sense of continuity of confidence
07:26 and then help them learn
07:29 what they can do for themselves and what God can do for them.
07:32 Now what's specifically do you do
07:35 when you go inside of the prisons?
07:36 And I ask that because times when I was in prison years ago,
07:41 we had different ministries, different religions
07:44 who would come in, they would do programming.
07:46 We also had different people
07:47 like substance abuse counselors that would come in.
07:50 There were different education things
07:52 to get your GED.
07:54 There were something called Project Rio
07:55 at one of the prisons I was at
07:57 which would help reintegrate individuals back
07:59 into the society.
08:00 But specifically what are the things
08:02 that you do or have done over the years,
08:05 30 plus years in prison ministries
08:07 done in the prisons?
08:08 Well, I would say when we first went in,
08:12 we would go especially on the state prisons.
08:16 One of the state prisons we went to,
08:19 actually we were fortunate,
08:21 the prisoners had a actual Seventh-day Adventist church
08:25 in the prison.
08:26 They still have it.
08:28 And so they had deacons, they had elders...
08:31 Now, who were the deacons and elders?
08:32 The inmates? The inmates.
08:34 I'm talking about the inmates. I've never heard that before.
08:36 Okay. So it's still going on, it's a very unusual situation.
08:41 We were involved in helping them
08:43 get rights to do baptisms and food...
08:49 I'm just curious who was the pastor?
08:51 Well, okay.
08:53 There was at that time, at the time
08:55 we did that there was a guy
08:58 that I think 3ABN has done a story,
09:01 his name is Rick Wise.
09:04 And, but he was the pastor
09:07 because he could be that but in a sense he was.
09:11 He was a really...
09:13 He and another guy Rudy Walker,
09:15 they were the driving force in that particular ministry.
09:20 But they had a church.
09:21 So we came in and enabled them.
09:23 But later we had to actually we would do the sermon,
09:29 we would do to help them do Sabbath school,
09:33 but then we had to take over that
09:34 because of some changes in the state law.
09:36 So at first we would do bring a program to local jails,
09:43 we always and we still do that.
09:45 We kind of bring set programs, songs,
09:49 testimonies that they do.
09:51 We do, you know, message and such as that.
09:55 But in that particular instance we, we're enabling them,
10:00 we're helping them.
10:01 We do Sabbath school and such.
10:03 But then for me it grew over the years
10:06 that I would bring in, I would do Bible studies,
10:11 not the set necessarily Bible studies
10:14 but things that I would make up,
10:17 that would speak to their needs.
10:19 And eventually I began to do health program
10:23 which was wildly successful.
10:25 And we're going to talk more about at the end of it.
10:27 And then we did...
10:32 I did Daniel and Revelation series
10:36 and other series that would draw people
10:40 because we were trying to build numbers.
10:42 This was mostly at Ross Correctional,
10:44 I did this.
10:45 Now, a person wants to go inside the prison,
10:47 they want to do basically what you did
10:49 with the Bible studies,
10:50 Daniel Revelation seminars, set up a church service,
10:53 whatever it may be.
10:54 But what is the process of an individual
10:57 even trying to be able to get in to a jail,
11:00 or prison, or juvenile center.
11:01 'Cause you can't just walk in there
11:03 and just say you know what,
11:04 I want to do something for the inmates.
11:05 So what is that process
11:07 that an individual has to go through to be able to
11:10 even get into the prison to do some ministry work?
11:13 Okay. The first thing is internal work.
11:16 Okay, okay.
11:17 You want to make sure
11:19 you're going in for the right reasons.
11:22 I've seen the opposite happened.
11:24 So, but, you want to go in not thinking,
11:29 I'm going to help these poor unfortunate people.
11:32 Wow. Yeah. Okay, okay.
11:34 You want to go in saying, here's a child of God,
11:38 I want to minister to them.
11:39 So basically you have to change your outlook for them.
11:41 You have to change your outlook
11:42 or your work will never be affective
11:45 because they can smell that almost, you know.
11:48 They'll smell that and say, "Ah, this guy,
11:50 something is wrong with him."
11:51 Yeah. He's a phony. Right. So that's the first thing.
11:54 But then once you've dealt with that,
11:56 then you have to investigate
11:59 "what the rules are" for the particular facilities.
12:04 Some have very stringent rules.
12:08 I mean, to the point where some places I've gone
12:13 you'd almost be strips.
12:16 You know when you go in there
12:17 where other places you would just walk in,
12:20 you know, you could have, you know, it seems like
12:23 you could have carried a machine gun at first.
12:25 But then they slowly tighten up too.
12:29 So you got to check out that
12:30 and I would get with the local prison ministry...
12:36 things in the local areas
12:38 because they will know specifically,
12:41 but I think that number one
12:44 you want to have something to say or something to offer.
12:48 Don't just go in as a blank canvas
12:50 'cause they'll be looking at you
12:52 and you'll be looking at them
12:54 and then you'll say, oh, let's read this.
12:56 Well, they don't need you to read that.
12:58 They need you to offer them something that they don't have.
13:02 So you know, if you don't have that clear in your mind,
13:06 what it is that you want to bring to them
13:10 then take a little more time.
13:12 Definitely. Definitely.
13:13 Talk about some of the instances,
13:14 some of the people that you have come across
13:17 in the 30 plus years of prison ministry.
13:19 Talk about the different instances
13:21 that you've had, the encounters that you've had
13:23 with these different people, the different inmates
13:25 that you've dealt with over the years.
13:28 Boy, there's a lot of those.
13:30 But I tell you one I'll give you some extremes.
13:34 One extreme was I was at a local jail.
13:37 Okay. Okay.
13:39 And I was presenting
13:40 and I do it in a little more unusual way
13:43 because I don't want to just say,
13:46 "Okay, here's the text and here's what we do."
13:49 I usually challenge the people,
13:51 you know, I talk about get them to sense their weakness
13:56 and their failures and guilt and things like that.
14:00 And then I say, "Well, God has done away with that,
14:02 now, what you're going to do with that.
14:03 What do you..."
14:05 You know, so to get them to move beyond
14:07 what they've done wrong,
14:09 to what God is now going
14:11 to make the potential for them to do.
14:14 And I was doing this in this occasion.
14:17 And this man came up to me
14:19 crying at the end of the service
14:22 and I'm thinking, "Wow what's going on?"
14:24 So I talk to him for a minute. He was 50 years old.
14:30 And he said, "This is the first church service
14:34 I've ever been in my life."
14:37 He said, "I've never experienced this."
14:41 He said, "And I wasn't going to come today
14:43 but I heard your voice through the door.
14:46 And I decided to come out."
14:48 And he said, "This is the first time
14:50 I've ever been in church."
14:52 And he said, "I'm crying
14:54 because I've missed this all my life."
14:57 Wow. Okay.
14:59 So, wow! What do you say?
15:02 Somebody tells you that's like.
15:05 Okay.
15:07 Praise God.
15:08 I mean, but on the other extremes
15:10 I've done programming.
15:13 And I really and we'll talk about this I think.
15:16 But some of the health programs was interesting
15:20 because we tend to have stereotypes of
15:23 who we have in the prisons.
15:26 But...
15:27 Now what do you mean by that stereotypes of those
15:28 we have in prisons?
15:30 Well, it's just like out here, we kind of pigeonhole
15:33 but we say this person
15:35 is not going to be interested in this...
15:36 Yeah, we do this.
15:37 This person is not going to be interested in that.
15:39 Or only these people will want what I have to offer.
15:46 I remember I was doing a heath series
15:48 called Divine Medicine.
15:49 Okay. Okay.
15:51 And it was drawing people.
15:55 Normally when I first began at this prison Ross Correctional,
15:59 we were getting may be five people
16:01 to come out or something.
16:03 Then I worked out through the Bible study
16:05 and different things we were getting 25, 35.
16:09 When I did the health series
16:11 we were getting 85 to 100 people.
16:14 And people were like, "Whoa." Okay.
16:18 But who these people were is more interesting.
16:23 We were getting Muslims by the droves.
16:27 I remember I was giving a Bible text
16:29 from the New Testament about clean and unclean foods.
16:33 And I bet you many Adventists couldn't tell you
16:36 New Testament text about clean and unclean foods.
16:39 And I gave this text
16:40 and the guy start waving his hand he say, "Hey..."
16:43 a Muslim man "What is that Bible text again."
16:48 They were so into it
16:49 we actually had several other Muslim
16:52 become Seventh-day Adventist.
16:53 Wow. That's amazing. Right.
16:54 But we had Jehovah's Witnesses come.
16:59 In fact, their services were at the same time
17:03 as ours were
17:05 and a lot of them just left and came to ours.
17:09 You know, in fact the teacher for one of those,
17:12 he actually became vegetarian
17:14 through our helping for the Jehovah's Witnesses.
17:16 Now what do you think was the difference between
17:19 before you implemented the health
17:21 and then you implemented to help,
17:23 because at first you only have five to ten people coming.
17:25 Now you have 80 plus people who are coming.
17:27 What was that difference that you saw?
17:29 Well, I think that before I came in
17:31 there was a team of people
17:33 and we were all working together
17:35 and we talked about and I said,
17:37 "We've got to meet life issues."
17:40 So we can't just go in and say,
17:43 "Here's this is Bible text, this what it means."
17:47 You can't do that.
17:48 You've got to meet these needs as real people.
17:51 And, man, health was a phenomenally important
17:57 to the prisoners.
17:58 I mean, and I'll just give you one other example.
18:02 A guy, he knew what I was doing as a naturopath,
18:07 and so he had questions and he said, he came to me,
18:11 he said, "I've been having this backache
18:13 and my doctor says he can't figure out what's wrong
18:18 and he's been just giving me some aspirin, it's not helping.
18:22 What do I need to do?"
18:23 So the Lord put it in my mind, I said,
18:26 "Your backache is it about right here?"
18:30 He said, "Yeah, that's exactly where it is."
18:33 I said, "It's your kidneys."
18:35 I said now normally I would use some herbs and thing.
18:39 I said, "I'll tell you what I want you to do though.
18:42 I want you to start drinking a lot of water."
18:45 But then I set out on the prison yard over there.
18:50 There's some weeds growing. Okay.
18:52 Okay. I noticed that.
18:55 And I've shown this guy
18:57 and this guy where those weeds are.
19:00 And there was dandelions.
19:02 So I said, "You grab those, get some hot water,
19:06 make a tea out of those."
19:10 And he did this
19:11 and when I saw him again about two weeks later
19:15 he said, "I have no more back pain."
19:16 Wow. Praise the Lord.
19:17 "I don't have to take pills anymore.
19:19 My blood pressure is better." Okay?
19:22 Okay. Wow.
19:24 If I hadn't approached him as a normal person I would say,
19:30 "Brother, we're going to pray for you.
19:31 Let me pray for you now."
19:34 Well, sometimes you need to do prayer plus.
19:36 Yes, exactly. Okay, okay.
19:39 Now of all this time of doing prison ministry how often,
19:42 how frequently do you go inside of the jails,
19:44 in the prisons and do the health work,
19:46 or do the preaching, do the church services?
19:48 How frequently do you do this?
19:49 Well, usually local jails we do...
19:54 Our team was twice a week
19:55 and usually I used to go we had a small team.
20:02 I would go well, several times a month locally.
20:07 And then we work to build the team
20:11 and trained other people so.
20:13 And with my travel schedule now I still go maybe once a month
20:18 or something like that.
20:19 With the state prisons I went once a month
20:24 we had Sabbath service, and then after a while
20:27 I begin to do my own Sabbath service
20:30 at a different prison.
20:32 And then while another team went to another prison
20:35 in the same city.
20:36 And then so that continued that way.
20:39 So it used to be I was doing it
20:42 maybe three or four times a month.
20:44 Now I do it maybe once a month or something like that.
20:46 Now you said earlier that you've been
20:48 in the juvenile centers,
20:49 you've been in the halfway houses
20:50 and you've been in the prisons.
20:52 What is the difference with working with the juveniles
20:55 because for myself I've been incarcerated
20:57 in juvenile center,
20:58 I've been in halfway house, I've been in jail,
20:59 I've been in prison, all of them.
21:01 And the juveniles though are a little bit more,
21:03 you know, bouncing around doing things.
21:05 What difference did you see in working with the juveniles
21:08 in doing the same program as you're doing
21:10 versus working with the older guys?
21:12 Well, I'll tell you something interesting
21:14 that I was able to do
21:15 and it's something the Lord open up,
21:18 I had nothing to do with it other than just going
21:20 and doing, right?
21:23 I had a situation where I was able to be paid
21:28 by community and...
21:34 Municipal, local municipal agencies to do life skill work,
21:40 okay, which is really we would go in,
21:44 me and another partner,
21:47 I would design these workshops and we would go in
21:50 and do life skill workshops.
21:52 Okay, where we're challenging them who are you,
21:58 you know, etc, etc.
22:00 But we were doing it in a way
22:01 that captivated their attention.
22:03 Well, pretty soon these kids were talking about things
22:08 that you would never think they would be talking about,
22:11 they were letting go.
22:12 And I challenge them, I said, once one workshop I did
22:16 it was about the spirituality of time.
22:20 Now wait, wait what are you talking about, right?
22:23 Because that's out of the box.
22:26 But I said what time you get up in the morning
22:31 is driven by a series of moral decisions
22:35 that you make.
22:36 I said, do you want to...
22:38 What time you get up?
22:40 And they'd say, "Oh, 8 o'clock, 7 o'clock."
22:46 I said, what time you have to be at school?
22:48 "Ah, 8:15."
22:50 I said, "So how can you possibly be on time?"
22:54 What makes the difference between this person
22:57 who has to be there at 8:15.
22:59 They get up at six and you get up at this
23:02 and I said there's a whole series of decisions.
23:05 And it was amazing because at the end of this thing
23:08 this person says, "I'm going to get up earlier.
23:11 I'm going to prepare my life."
23:14 We have to see these young people
23:17 as not waste products,
23:20 but a fertile field that we can say,
23:25 "If I plant seeds, something will grow.
23:29 But if I don't plant any seeds,
23:31 surely nothing is going to grow except weeds."
23:34 And that's what we've kind of had.
23:36 So in the halfway houses you had people
23:40 who were transitional on their way out
23:43 or on their way up.
23:47 You know, so what I did was
23:51 it was a ministry of empowerment
23:53 and just like it is in the prisons.
23:55 We want to help them see that despite the circumstances
24:00 and I, you know, dealt with people
24:02 who were facing long prison sentences.
24:06 And I remember when I went in and talked to one group
24:11 they were, they had been there five years
24:15 and now it's like been 40 years almost
24:19 that he's been there still strong.
24:22 So we have to encourage people like that, you know.
24:25 In about two minutes I want you to talk about,
24:28 prior to the interview, you told me something
24:29 about a three legged chair.
24:31 Talk to us about that?
24:33 Well, I think, you know, my approach to ministry
24:36 and my approach to health is probably different
24:38 than most people.
24:40 Because most of the time people will go in
24:43 and they'll say, "I'm going to tell you about
24:46 your backache or high blood pressure
24:49 and then, oh, let me tell you about Jesus."
24:51 You know, it is so integrated
24:55 that if I tell you about your health,
24:57 you're going to automatically learn about Jesus.
24:59 So we are made in the image of God.
25:03 Everybody knows that right so to speak.
25:07 But do you know what that means?
25:10 Okay, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, three,
25:15 but there's only one God.
25:16 Okay.
25:18 So those three were interchangeable.
25:20 So us being made in the image of God,
25:24 there has to be three dimensions
25:27 in this one being,
25:30 moral, which is you could almost say the operator,
25:34 mental, which is the software,
25:37 physical, which is the hardware.
25:39 Okay, I liked it.
25:40 Which one of those things can you break up
25:43 and not interrupt the operation.
25:46 If your software is not working but the hardware is fine,
25:49 you still not going to do anything.
25:51 Same way with that stool.
25:54 Life is about that balance of those things.
25:57 So if you've got mental, moral, physical
26:02 all of those stool legs need to be stable.
26:06 So if you see one is broken,
26:10 the other two are going to lean as well.
26:12 So I think that's a great way to think about it
26:15 is integration of all these powers
26:19 to heal that whole person.
26:20 So if you go in only working on the moral part,
26:25 you've got a one dimensional work...
26:28 Yeah. There is a deficiency somewhere else.
26:29 There is a deficiency somewhere else.
26:31 So the work that God has given us
26:34 is a three dimensional work,
26:35 and I have a whole series of stuff
26:37 on the three dimensional living I call it.
26:40 So our ministry to three dimensional people
26:44 has to be three dimensional.
26:45 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
26:47 What I want you to do right now is,
26:49 I want to look into the camera and take about 30, 40 seconds
26:53 and talk to the individual that wants to get involved
26:55 but as we stated they might be scared to get involved,
26:59 or they don't know how to go about getting
27:02 their record expunged, or taken care of
27:05 so that they can get involved in prison ministries
27:07 and go inside of there.
27:09 Talk to that individual to give them
27:11 some words to get up and get into the prison
27:14 and be able to do something?
27:15 The first thing and I would say to anyone that's interested
27:20 in joining prison ministry is will you be obedient
27:25 to the call of Christ?
27:26 He said for us to go so we have to go
27:30 but what does that mean.
27:31 When it comes to prison ministry,
27:33 you don't have to start off jumping into the jails,
27:38 you can support with letter writing,
27:40 you can support with funds, you can send literature.
27:43 If you've got a record already,
27:45 you do have to make some maybe a little time a year,
27:49 year and a half they have you wait,
27:51 but then give yourself the opportunity
27:54 to join with a prison ministry, get with those people
27:57 and get involved.
27:59 That's the final thing, get involved.
28:01 Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
28:02 Well, Mr. Howard, we appreciate you coming on
28:04 and sharing with us this important work.
28:07 Viewers, we want to thank you for tuning in.
28:09 Be sure to tune in next time for another exciting program
28:12 of The New Journey.


Revised 2017-09-18