Police and Prison Ministry

Welcome to the Police and Prison Ministry Blog. This new feature of JusticeAcademy.org is specifically designed to provide a forum where members of the profession can address the contemporary issues of the day. This blog is hosted by Pastor Ed Vainio, M.Div. Pastor Vainio has served as an Ordained Minister for the Assemblies of God Church for the past forty years, and also as a Police and Prison Chaplain. Ed currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors for JusticeAcademy.org. You can reach Pastor Vainio at ed.vainio@justiceacademy.org

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One thought on “Police and Prison Ministry”

  1. Which of us is not prone to a jaded attitude toward habitual lawbreakers and schemers? We know the facts about recidivism. We see a bushel of rotten apples but miss the one apple that is still redeemable. I am convinced that God not only sees that one damaged apple, but He is able to restore and free him or her from the clutches of recidivism.
    Dave (not his real name) was a friend and volunteer teacher in a church I was serving in Montana. Bright, charismatic, an excellent communicator and motivator, most people wouldn’t have guessed he had served time – twice – for writing bad checks. His transformation seemed real enough. Then a few years later the unbelievable happened. He wrote a bad check to purchase a motor home! Recidivism was not something I was unfamiliar with, but I really thought Dave was the rare exception. It shook me. And now I had a choice to make: would I turn away from him in disgust, or would I, like Jesus Christ, go after the lost sheep in hopes of restoring him once more. That would mean hundreds of miles of travel to various correctional institutions across Montana for the next several years. Would Jesus really waste my precious time that way?
    Let me tell the rest of the story, and you decide. At first, Dave was in the county jail in the town where I pastored. So, weekly visits were somewhat easy. We talked and prayed together as I tried to encourage and strengthen his resolve to learn his lesson this time. He was a model prisoner, and began diligently preparing studies to teach when he would eventually be released. Then the State of Montana moved him to their facility 100 miles away in Deer Lodge. Consequently, our visits became less frequent. During this time Dave received a few hints of early release, but none ever materialized.

    Demoralizing!
    Twelve months later I was called to assist a church in the northeast corner of the state – several hundred miles from Deer Lodge. But then, just a week or two later, the State of Montana unexpectedly transferred Dave to their facility in Glendive – 45 miles from the church I was pastoring! And soon we were visiting weekly again. Coincidence? Well, it certainly was not the intent of the State to do this for John!

    But there’s yet another “coincidence”. A year later, my church assignment was completed and I returned home – 600 miles away from Dave. And then a week later a surprise arrived for Dave: the State of Montana moved him to a pre-release center in Great Falls. And, I am pleased to report that for the past 7 years Dave has successfully operated his own business there and lives an exemplary, God-honoring life today.

    The idea that for Dave’s sake God would manipulate both my path and the State of Montana’s path is proof not only of His Sovereignty, but of His love for one wayward, foolish sheep!
    “God, please keep me from becoming so jaded by a bushel of rotten apples that I miss those you would redeem. Jesus, help me to shepherd them to wholeness and freedom through Your power! Amen.”

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