The Texas Field Minister will always wear white, maybe even to the grave, but as a new man and a new woman—a different kind of incarcerated man and woman—learned, humanized, stable, pensive, able to think and reason, and allowed to influence others toward a responsible and productive life. The Texas Field Minister is a scholar-mentor. The Texas Field Ministers as scholar-mentors are able to listen and provide an answer, in their view, to life’s big questions beyond their upbringing, their crime, their life experience, and their prison experience. The Texas Field Ministers exemplify and exceed the goals of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
It would be insane to have rehabilitation goals that no one can actually achieve and display that they have achieved, especially if they will never live anywhere else but prison. The Texas Field Ministers Program is an opportunity for someone with a life sentence to live a corrected life and show others that they can.
Christian history has always included education. Christian history reveals, throughout the centuries, the establishment of educational institutions—the call to love and care for people through the reverent pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Deep theological reflection is not something to be avoided, but is part of the human experience, even if one comes to the conclusion that there is no God. To deny that this is part of the human experience is to avoid reality and irresponsibly leave the most basic human questions without a compass offered by the millions of lives that have gone before us, not to mention history itself. Field Ministers lived life fast before they came to prison and have lived life long since the beginning of their incarceration. Before prison, they hardly had time to ponder life’s big questions; in prison, life’s big questions stare them in the face with all of the time a life sentence brings to ponder these questions. To deny this as a reality would be cruel. More than 2,000 years of church history exists, and it is good to study it. The Field Minister as scholar-mentor can be a help to others who have the same life questions they once did.
The Field Minister lives out his faith with gentleness and consistency, and without hypocrisy—in full view of his peers. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, ESV)
The Field Minister maintains a visible, unashamed, humble, accountable, and incorruptible personal integrity in a place where inmate integrity is often defined by the dark network of the prison’s inmate culture. “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8, ESV)
The Field Minister does not quit; he perseveres with joyful patience and hope-filled endurance in the midst of harsh circumstances, threats, temptations, and intimidations. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, ESV)
The Field Minister proactively offers his heart to those in the prison’s deepest places of need, where the most isolated, forlorn, and lost inmates live—an environment which is often hostile and threatening. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:14-15, ESV)
Anything we can do to further equip, support, and train the Field Minister to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ and with Christian morals and values, we will do. For those Field Ministers who are not Christians, we advocate for their continued religious freedom and voluntary participation in any service The Heart of Texas Foundation is privileged to provide, though it will always be Christian in nature and identity.
The Heart of Texas Foundation’s work through the Texas Field Ministers Program is a commitment to continually offer active support to everyone involved, resulting in each person flourishing in community with a mind, heart, and ability to serve others.
Wardens and Chaplains training. The Heart of Texas Foundation annually provides a portion of the Texas Field Ministers Program orientation training for wardens and chaplains who have Field Ministers assigned to their units.
Field Minister Cross-training. The Heart of Texas Foundation will continue to provide Field Ministers opportunities for training while on the field.
Field Minister Team Resource Kits. The The Heart of Texas Foundation has provided and delivered Field Ministry kits to all Field Ministry Units. These kits include a theological library, counseling materials, as well as, two computers and one printer. The Field Ministers need resources once they are on the field.
Resource replenishment. The The Heart of Texas Foundation continues to work with the Field Minister teams to assess their needs. Some teams need sound equipment, specific counseling resources, or theological books and materials. We are working systemically to assess these needs and meet them so that ministry can continue to grow and mature and adapt to the unique needs of the units.
Local Church Adoption
Part of our end-goal for each Field Ministry team is that a nearby church would adopt the team, and become an ongoing source of pastoral care and help. Teams need their own pastor to counsel and encourage them, and to help provide materials for their ministry— Bibles, paper, pens, tracts, for example. We prayerfully make trips to the Field Ministry prisons and their nearby churches to identify local pastors who might wish to meet the Field Ministers who are incarcerated so close to their churches. When this happens, great joy comes to the local church’s pastor and his flock, and great joy comes to the Field Ministry team.
If your church would like to know more about adopting a Field Minister team in your area or how you might be able to serve them, please let us know.
Church – Field Ministers Team Adoption Inquiry
The Heart of Texas Foundation makes a lifelong commitment to men and women who enter the Texas Field Ministers Program and successfully keep their jobs as Field Ministers.
We are now developing a Field Ministers Program for the women in Texas prisons. It will be located at the Hobby Unit for Women, in Marlin, just south of Waco. We have invited two groups of women to help us lay the groundwork.
Working under the supervision of the Unit Warden and Chaplain, listed below are duties in policy for Field Ministers.
1. Community Service Ministry Field Ministers may be assigned to unit-community, service-oriented ministries:
Intake/Orientation at Unit of Assignment
Become a Certified Field Minister Trainer in a Field Ministers Reading Acceleration Center (The Heart of Texas Foundation provides this training)
2. Crisis Ministry Field Ministers may be assigned to crisis ministries for their peers:
3. Counseling Ministry Field Ministers may be assigned to counseling ministries:
Tier-Walking (General Population, Medium Custody, Close Custody, Administrative Segregation)
4. Faith-Based Ministry Field Ministers may be assigned to faith-based ministries in Chaplaincy religious programming and/or Field Minister-led ministries:
Worship Service Planning and Conducting
Additional Ministry Proposals
Unit Senior Wardens and Chaplains may propose other ways of using Field Ministers to the Field Ministers Advisory Council.
Once assigned to a unit, Field Ministers shall be allowed to propose new ministry activities to the Unit Chaplain and Warden for initial approval. The Field Minister Coordinator will submit the request to the Field Ministers Advisory Council for final approval.