1) Paperback Bible dictionary/concordances in English or Spanish (you’d be surprised how often I get requests for these)
2) Discovery Series booklets (same publisher as Daily Bread) on any topic
3) Blank Christmas and Easter cards so inmates can write to their families.
4) Soft Cover King James Bibles or Reina Valera Spanish Bibles. I get ESV through Gideons, but I’m sometimes light on these other good translations that are frequently requested.
5) Tall floor lamps (family need)
Highlights & Moments in the Jail
About three weeks ago, I decided to work on my very limited Spanish language skills to better equip myself to minister to our Spanish speaking ICE detainees. So, I found a good app for my phone called Duo Lingo and started daily lessons. Duo Lingo had numerous other languages, so I downloaded Russian and Hawaiian as well. A week ago, I entered the dorm housing most of the ICE detainees and I got into a discussion with a man from Jordan who volunteered to teach me Arabic. He wrote down about 10 Arabic survival phrases for me phonetically. This past week, I’m pretty sure it was Friday, but my memory might be faulty from all the languages… anyhow, I entered the same dorm. The Jordanian saluted me in Arabic. I said Salam (Hello, lit. peace), then I winced in embarrassment. I had forgotten everything else. Then, the Spanish speaking guys started to come up to me. Despite all the Spanish I had been working on, my mind was a total blank. I could barely remember Como estas? Yes, I had language overload.The moral of this story: set realistic goals. Like my grandpa used to say, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
Recently, I missed a phone call from Jason, the director at the Salvation Army Recovery Center in Akron (ARC). When I saw that he had called and had not left a message, I was worried that the two former inmates whom I had helped apply were doing poorly in the program or had maybe even run away. To my amazement, when I finally spoke Jason, he revealed the exact opposite. The men I had helped apply for ARC are doing great and he asked me if I had any other prospects! It was a tremendous answer to prayer and the most encouraging event over the course of this past month.
This month, it has been difficult to find good male candidates for the Reformers Unanimous faith-based addictions program. Also, the majority of the men enrolled in the class have been undisciplined about doing the challenges and daily journal. There have been various circumstances and various excuses, and college football on Saturdays is a distraction. I know the enemy will do anything in an attempt to avert the focus away from Jesus and the victory we can only have through Jesus. However, I know that God does not want us to give up in this battle. One man surprised me when I visited him today. He had completed his entire first book in one week! Two other men in the same cell block were excited when they saw that and asked about joining the program. I was reminded of what God told King Asa when he resolved to serve the LORD and he started to bring godly reform to a godless people: “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chron. 15:7). Indeed, in the midst of opposition and challenges nothing is too hard for our Amazing God: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.There is nothing too hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).
Thanksgiving is coming soon! It is probably my favorite holiday. Perhaps, it doesn’t have the sacred profundity of Christmas or Easter, but it reminds me to thank God for all His blessings. There is something very pure in that… and just as some people want to make every day Christmas in their heart, I’m a better man when I make every day Thanksgiving. First and foremost this year, I’m thankful for a new house. What an amazing blessing! When we were buying our house, our offer was accepted right before the housing prices started to climb exponentially. God kept things affordable for us in His provision. Second, I’m also grateful for a loving and supportive circle of friends. With family being distant, deepening friendships mean so much to both my wife and I (Prov. 18:24). Third, I grateful for such a wonderful wife and such healthy and fun-loving daughters. My cup runneth over!
Operation Christmas Bag is an outreach to bless the inmates during Christas and encourage them to think about the true meaning of Christmas. Each inmate receives a pre-packed lunch bag filled with useful items such as socks, cards, treats, and a gospel tract. I will be passing out the bags around Dec. 23rd (while wearing my Santa hat of course). I usually have a few extra bags that I re-pack for corrections officers. They don’t care about socks, but they won’t pass up candy or cookies! Please pray that the inmates are receptive to the Gospel. Pray for our officers too, that the the Spirit would soften their hearts to the Gospel at this special time of year.
–By the way, a few churches have already been collecting items, so I have enough donations at this time.
1. Pray that men and women in the jail would give their lives to Christ. Pray for the inmates who have made commitments to be able to stand in the strength of Christ against persecution, peer-pressure, temptation, backsliding, etc.
2. Please pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with corrections officers and other staff and opportunities to share the love of Christ with them.
3. Please pray for the continued success of the RU program. Pray that God would have victory in the lives of those who struggle with addictions and that God would protect them from temptation and against spiritual attack, especially following their release.
4.Please pray for God’s spiritual protection over those who volunteer in the jail. Also, please pray for the spiritual battle that surrounds the inmates and officers. We know that the battle raging in hearts and minds is spiritual. Please pray that God’s Truth would prevail.
Happy Thanksgiving! Chaplain Ethan Maynard