Staff Appreciation Day at Oklahoma County Detention Center, December 13, 2022
Finding Freedom in Christ Behind Bars of Steel
As the inmate chaplain for Ellis County, I have the privilege of ministering to many men who pass through our doors.
Sometimes I meet them once, and that’s the last time I see them. Other times I meet with them enough that I am able to get to know them. One such man, who I will call Bob, met me through a group Bible study at the jail. He was young, in his twenties, and had a learning disability that made it difficult for him to interact with the other inmates. Bob was very quiet, and I often left our time together thinking to myself that he wasn’t getting anything out of the studies. But Bob kept coming to the study time with a pencil in one hand, and the Bible that OJPM gave him in the other.
One day, after several weeks of meetings, Bob came to me as the other inmates were leaving to show me a picture; not of his family, but of his prize pig. A connection had been made, and from that time on I was able to ask him questions about how he raised pigs for show, and was able to parallel his love for his pigs with how much God loved and cared for him.
One day, as the Bible study was ending, Bob came to me and said that he didn’t know if he could have made it through this time if I had not been there. That statement deeply touched me, and when I got back to my car that day I cried as I thanked God for allowing me to be there for him.
And today, dear reader, I want to thank you. Without your support I would not be able to minister to these men in this capacity. You make it possible for men and women like me to be there for these inmates who desperately need to know that God loves them and cares for them.
I don’t know where Bob is today. He was moved to another facility a few months ago. But what he said to me that one day helps to carry me from week to week.
Thank you for giving me and others across our state the opportunity to be there for all the Bobs who need God’s love.
Chaplain Tim Hooten, Arnett,
Oklahoma — Ellis County
Chaplain Tim Hooten pastors at First Baptist Church of Gage. He is available for the staff and inmates. He also does two Bible studies a week with the inmates. Pray for our need of a female volunteer to minister to the female inmates.
The new Ellis County jail was built in 2018, the old county jail is above the court house next to the new jail. The facility maximum is 36. Chaplain Tim joined Oklahoma Jail & Prison Ministry team in 2021.
Pictured to the left is Senior Chaplain Charles Jennings and Chaplain Tim Hooten
Chaplain Jesse West, Chaplain since 2018 and Chaplain Barry Taylor, Bryan County Volunteer of Year 2022 at Durant Connect
Pictured above is the booth set up by Chaplain Jesse West at the Durant Connect.
Chaplain’s Jesse West and Barry Taylor were invited to set up a table on November fifth that would promote the Oklahoma Jail & Prison Ministries, and also to make others aware of the ministry that’s available here in Bryan County. It is called Durant Connect because of the plan to connect all of the various ministries that’s offered in the Bryan county and Texoma area. This included different food banks, shelters, safe-housing for victims of Domestic abuse, Narcotics anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, etc.
Chaplain Jesse West was able to speak with everyone concerning the ministry that’s offered as well as the need for more volunteers. We did have a few people express their interest in becoming a volunteer, but we know it’s all in God’s hands. We’ll trust Him to send the right one’s into His harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
Please pray that He would send some much needed male volunteers our way. Currently, we have three female volunteers, with room for one or two more, but we’re desperately lacking when it comes to male volunteers.
Bryan County, Durant stats from October 2021 to October 2022
Inmates Counseled 379
Salvation Decisions 13
Recommitments to Christ 25
Follow Up Counseling 191
Bibles Given Out 149
Rom 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
First. let me introduce myself to you. My name is Ron Caudill, and I am privileged to be the newest member of the OJPM board. I have been serving as a volunteer chaplain since 2009 at the Oklahoma Detention Center, traveling once a month to McAlester State Penitentiary and have taught classes at Lexington A&R. I pastored for thirty-one years and taught leadership classes at Heartland Baptist Bible College for 20 years.
Working with the men and women of OJPM has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Some of the most dedicated, compassionate, and choice servants of the Lord serve in the local detention centers and prisons as chaplains. It has been my pleasure to call many of them my friends. I hasten to say that I have met many inmates who are serving our Lord faithfully in these facilities because of the efforts of chaplains across the State. I can only say this has made a vast deal of difference in the atmosphere of the facility. These inmates give continuous testimony of our wonderful Savior and the work being done there by our chaplains.
Romans 8:28 has been my life verse and I often use it in talking to inmates at Oklahoma County. I call this God’s recipe for life. We have all been around the kitchen watching our wives baking and taking note of what goes into the preparation of some of our favorite dishes. Those dishes use ingredients that we have tasted by themselves while there are others that we dare not taste by themselves. They are all important for the recipe to turn out as it should.
For the inmate it is important for them to see that this time in their life is an important part of the recipe. It can be a vital teaching point for him or her. Like the recipe, it may not be something that by itself is viewed as good but can work together for their good if viewed properly. I never saw my deployment overseas during the Vietnam conflict as something good, but God used that time in my life to help me see my lost condition. All of us, if we are saved, have had such turning points that brought about our salvation. What a privilege it is to be a part of presenting the Gospel to an inmate and seeing their eyes light up with hope.
God’s recipe for life is not all fun and games. There are lessons to be learned and hills to climb for the inmate but our great God is able. It is our responsibility to give them a clear gospel message. That is the one ingredient vital for a changed life. It is the Word of God that changes lives and gives hope. It is not our own recipe, ideas, or philosophies of life. Paul said it all when he wrote; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation.”
Again and again we have seen God’s Word break down a hardened heart and make it tender and receptive to the gospel message. God’s recipe works every time. It not only works for the inmate, but it works for any sinner. A life changed by the old-fashioned gospel is the only recipe that will make life work.