What drives us in this calling? It is to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the darkest of places. For us, those places are where men in solitary confinement live out their days, and often years, alone. Totally alone. They are not allowed to go to church, to attend bible study, to take classes, go to the library, the recreation yard, the cafeteria. They are locked up inside the lockup.
The Heart of Texas Foundation regularly visits the Field Ministers in their respective prisons in Texas. There are thirty-three prisons in Texas who have their own team of Field Ministers. Currently there are 162 Field Ministers serving in those 33 prisons, where a total of over 78,000 men are housed.
“Seeing is believing.” There is no more powerful proof of that old expression than to go into a men’s maximum-security prison with us. We often take new friends of our work into the prisons to visit our Field Ministers. We often take donors as well. And our visitors encounter experiences they never could have imagined.
We are now developing a Field Ministers Program for the women in Texas prisons. The Heart of Texas Foundation | College of Ministry for women will be located at the Hobby Unit for Women, in Marlin (30 minutes south of Waco). We have invited two groups of women to help us lay the groundwork.
The instructional space for the classroom, library, and computer lab has been painted. Shelving, tables, chairs, and laptops are on their way to the Hobby Unit. And perhaps, most important, the room will be receiving air conditioning due to generous donors who care about the women and want to see this opportunity into reality for them.
Updates on the school for the women will be developing quickly as we prepare for the historic first class to begin in 2021. Please continue to pray for the women students and faculty as we step into this important work the Lord has given us. So many people are coming together to make this work possible—TDCJ, HOTF, volunteers, inmate women, donors, and government leaders. We are grateful to the Lord to be a part of what he is doing.
Over the last few years of our operation, we have been able to build at the Darrington bible college a robust theological library of some 28,000 volumes, certainly unequalled anywhere in any prison in the world. During their four years of training, our men grow accustomed to having such a world-class library, yet when they are transferred out to their Field Ministry prisons, they find few theological and ministerial resources. Years ago we determined to provide each team of Field Ministers with a theological library of its own.
For nine years, The Heart of Texas Foundation has spearheaded the vision for Field Ministry in Texas. As of 2019, Texas Field Ministers have successfully served the male prison population for more than five years. Currently, 162 Field Ministers serve in 33 prison units across Texas or 55% of the male prison population within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
One thing I have learned about being a Field Minister is that every day is not the same. Some days are awesome and you can see the light switch turn on, other days you might think you are talking to the wall. What helps me not get a super ego or become utterly frustrated is to know it is not me but God who is in control. I’m merely an instrument.
I don’t think anyone could ever understand the magnitude of what God is doing through the Texas Field Ministers Program.
We gained two more Field Ministers last month and now have five. Our team is now stronger that it’s ever been! We recently baptized nine more in administrative segregation—making over 70 overall in three-and-a-half years.
One of them was Jimmy L. An officer pointed me to him . . .