First Church of Wheatfield, Indiana is making a massive impact in their community by bringing their church services to local inmates at the Jasper County Jail.
Though the services have only been taking place for the last [three] months, inmates and jail staff alike are already seeing notable progress.
“We have a quieter atmosphere,” said Sheriff Patrick Williamson. “In times past, you would hear banging, kicking, yelling, screaming, but now it’s very quiet. They get along well, they treat staff better, so we have [fewer] incidents. It just complements the other things going on in our jail.”
Before the jail church service initiative began, Sheriff Williamson collaborated with First Church pastor John Hill on an addiction recovery house. Success from that effort inspired Hill to expand their ministry efforts at the Jasper County Jail.
The weekly services held on Thursdays have become a highlight for over half the men and women in the jail who have decided to participate in the optional activity.
Inmate Anthony Gann shared the positive impact the worship services have had on his life with WLFI-TV.
“It’s awesome to get to have that real church experience while we are in here doing our time,” said Gann. “Some of the best guys I know are in here.”
Gann, who was arrested earlier this year for drug use, plans on continuing on the “right path” after he’s released in September by becoming a member of First Church.
In a powerful video shared on Facebook last month, the inmate is featured leading worship, singing soulful praises to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”
// Amazing grace! 💙
Today, a member of our Jasper County Jail Campus led us in singing “Amazing Grace.”
Posted by First Church on Thursday, May 30, 2019
“Don’t give up on us,” said Gann. “Just because we wear these clothes doesn’t mean we are bad people. We just made some dumb decisions.”
“Our church was really excited just to build bridges with these families, help them connect with our community, help them with employment, and just show them that we care,” said Pastor Hill, adding, “The corrections officers have talked about how the entire culture of the jail has shifted. The inmates are caring for one another and actually thinking about life beyond bars.”
Sheriff Williamson calls the transformation he’s seen in the jail inmates a “miracle [that] is something to behold.”
The most amazing part of the whole initiative is that lives are being transformed from the inside out by the blood of Jesus.
First Church shared a video in May that showed nine inmates at Jasper County Jail being baptized and giving their lives to the cause of Christ.
// Today, 5 men and 4 women at our Jasper County Jail Campus publicly declared their faith in Jesus! What a beautiful thing!! ❤️
Posted by First Church on Thursday, May 23, 2019
“I believe that Jesus is the only hope in the world,” said Pastor Hill. “I think we live in a society that is so quick to condemn people, but Jesus was so quick to give people second chances.”