Yesterday was one of my favorite days in prison ministry. We love going to Greenville. It was our first visit as a team and traditionally our arch nemesis on the softball field. We had a 4-8 record against them over the last 3 years prior to yesterday with many of those losses being blowouts! This is also the prison that we have the most relationships with. Guys who go by such as ARod, Cheese, JD, Jason, Panama and Skelly were all excited to catch up on how we were doing since the last time we were there*.
*(Prison culture is such that you almost always go by a nickname instead of your real name. So if you are ever planning to go to prison for an extended stay, make sure you have a good nickname!).
With a rainy forecast we left Peoria and departed for Greenville in a steady rain. We got to the prison and had due to some new guidelines (we weren’t allowed to preach or hand out literature in the yard) preached and handed out Gospels in the chapel. Our missionary athletes did a good job talking to the men during this time. One man gave his life to Christ after hearing the message. A couple of our Missionary Athletes were there to make sure he understood salvation and what it meant to follow Jesus.
The whole time we were preaching the rain kept falling. We were asked if we deemed the field too dangerous to play on but we came to play softball and didn’t want to disappoint the men who waited for us all year to play. We played one full game in the mud and won 22-11. Once again due to the regulations set by the prison, we were unable to share the Gospel at the end of the game or even pray with the men. We were able to invite them back for the 2nd chapel service were doing that evening.
During our lunch break it began to storm. We began trying to figure out who would play what on the basketball court. I told them that our main objective is to somehow play softball. The team we would play after lunch had been waiting for us since last year and we really didn’t want to disappoint them. The administration figured we would be done for the day or maybe open to playing some chess or ping pong with the men but we told them that we would play in anything short of a tornado.
That evening, we did another chapel service. Two additional men met with our Missionary Athletes after the service and asked about how they could be saved. The setting for ministry wasn’t ideal. Usually we talk to several more men when we are allowed to preach in the yard. However, due to the more intimate settings, we were able to make sure guys knew what it meant to be saved and answer questions they had.
Once the service was over, the rain had stopped and we engaged in what will probably go down as the Greenville Mud Bowl of 2015. The game lasted 7 innings but took 2 hours to play. We won 39-32. When we were done the field looked like a rodeo had taken place! The men thanked us again for coming in and talked about how much they look forward to us coming in every year.
Thank you again for your support! Yesterday made a life changing impact on at least 3 guys. Please pray that they get opportunities to be discipled. Yesterday also made an impact on the softball teams we played and the men who were already believers. It was a fun and rewarding day yesterday.
Please keep us in prayer as we head to Danville Correctional on June 27th!