Long ago we discovered that most men in prison have great difficulty reading. We have seen it in round-table discussions with inmate men; the ones who can’t read work carefully to mask this fact, because in prison one doesn’t want to get the reputation of being “stupid,” and a non-reader can be seen as that.
We professionally trained volunteer Field Ministers at Darrington to become Certified Literacy Instructors. Our team of Darrington Field Ministers Reading Instructors now regularly hold classes for men who struggle with comprehension, word recognition, pronunciation, and other indicators of reading difficulties. The results during our first year have been amazing and very rewarding.
If a person can’t read well, how can they be discipled through the Word of God? National studies reveal that nearly 70% of all people in prison are either semi-literate or are illiterate. We want to have Reading Acceleration Centers in every Field Ministers prison in Texas.
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.
The Heart of Texas Foundation | College of Ministry begins at the Hobby Unit for Women in 2021!
We are now developing a Field Ministers Program for the women in Texas prisons. The Hobby Unit for Women, in Marlin (30 minutes south of Waco) will be the location of The Heart of Texas Foundation | College of Ministry for women where the Class of 2025 will begin their studies pursuant to the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Ministry.
We look forward to releasing updates as we go. Please pray for the women students and faculty as we move forward together to equip women to serve skillfully and with joy under the cross of Christ anywhere a woman lives in the prison.
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.