Support these men however you can.
Dressed in all white, the men clap and sing, praising God with all the fervor a man can muster. They sing and fellowship every Wednesday, free to worship God for a few hours once a week. But after a couple of hours, they return to communal living with hundreds of other inmates and the life of a prisoner.
Outside Abilene in Hamby, off FM 3522, two prisons confine thousands of inmates. Robertson, a high-security unit houses prisoners for long periods of time for all sorts of crimes. Middleton, to the east, looks friendlier and contains prisoners in transition. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses them there to perform psychological tests and monitor the prisoners before the state decides what TDCJ unit suits them.
Thousands of these men wait for any good news in a period of bleak confinement. Many open themselves to Christ and find the Good News that many of us have to offer.
Some students and faculty already volunteer for prison ministry and affect these men’s lives on a weekly basis. Volunteering takes some preparation because of background checks and education, but volunteering at Middleton is easier than you may think. Working at Robertson takes more preparation, but these men need you and your good news.
Anyone can volunteer to teach classes and pray with the hundreds of men who show up each Wednesday night to pray, praise and commit themselves to Christ and his message.
In the last year, the TDCJ had to cut 66 chaplain positions across the state because of budget cuts that affected so many state departments, but these men still need to be taught the gospel. College students-with an abundance of time compared to their real-world counterparts-are well prepared to minister to these inmates.
Many groups in Abilene work with the area prisons and can use all the help they can get. Groups from University Church of Christ and Westgate Church of Christ volunteer and lead worship services each week at the prison. Contact Hal Howell at University and find out how to help these men or call either the Middleton or Robertson unit and ask to speak to a chaplain about volunteering.
Half of all those incarcerated return to prison, but about 10 to 20 percent of those who become Christians return, according to Dale Ford. Volunteer your time and drastically affect a man’s eternity.