Five Years in Jail by Palle Persson


September was the beginning of my 5th year in jail ministry. This was also a  fresh start for me. Over the years, all the driving, walking, talking, studying and responsibility were beginning to get me down. When my Purpose Driven Life (PDL) classes were cut from 4 to 2 classes per week, I was glad. I thought this might be the end for my jail ministry (Psalm 6:2).

My last newsletter article closed with the phrase, “God’s strength in our weakness”. I was feeling weak and burned out, but God began to show me how powerful He is and where I’m supposed to be. Jesse, an inmate who used to be in my class,  moved to a different dorm and became a Bible study leader. He was to be transferred to state prison and asked if I would take over. At the same time, the Sheriff’s Dept. was starting a woman’s dorm and Chaplain Lee wanted me to teach a PDL class. Back to 4 classes. These 2 new classes are on fire for the Lord and it’s contagious. Around the same time, someone from the VERA Institute (a non-profit organization that polices prisons and jails) called and wanted to sit in on a class. He had interviewed 100 inmates who had given him good reports about my course and wanted to see what it was all about. I don’t think he expected an earful of Jesus, but that’s what he got, while the rest of us got a heart full of Jesus (Philemon 20).

Things also started happening at Evergreen SGV. The 3rd-4th grade Sunday school class adopted the jail ministry in prayer. Children came up to me to say, “We prayed for you today” (Colossians 4:2, James 5:16). Pastors Kenny and Victor both came to jail and sat in on my classes and met those I minister to, and who minister to me. Pastor Kenny decided that I need prayer every Sunday and tracks me down before I can sneak out of the sanctuary. I love him for it. Pastor Victor also got me to go back to the jail hospital to pray for the sick. I hadn’t the energy to go there for months. On New Year’s day, Pastor Cory read a reflection on the blessing of suffering (perfect for jail). I later played this CD for more than 150 inmates and when Bethany sings “Blessings” many were singing along with teary eyes. Pastor Cory also spoke on bullying. There are inmates who want to come to my classes but are afraid because gang leaders don’t want them to mix with other races. The Sheriff’s Dept. has been great and is working on this but I could use your prayers.

It’s a miracle that I’m even in jail ministry. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it but I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s become a part of who I am. I feel that God has called me to this ministry (That’s another one of Pastor Cory’s messages, on outreach missions), 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5.

May this be of benefit to you.