A Student From a Cell to a Church
One of SOCPM's goal for 2017 is connecting more paroling students to a church prior their parole. A first, it was a slow start for students submitting a church request. It was a bit disheartening, but after some lecturing, I consider myself more of a teacher than preacher else it would be preaching, a few submitted a request. But it was after Brain sent his apply for a church and Brian getting a response that was more than he was expecting, the applications for a church has been quite steady the past few weeks.
After my lecture, Brain a student in discipleship class at Sheridan, as he was leaving the classroom asked me, "Can you find me a church Blue Island?" I replied, "I'll see what I can do." I utilize three church networks to begin my search, plugging in the zip code for Blue Island, the closest was 'Renewal Church of Chicago," 29-miles from Blue Island meaning a 45-minute drive by car or 1-hour using public transportation. Brian just coming out of prison and staying at a transition home was going to be challenged to make it each week to church, let alone be close to any potential mentors.
OK, let's try 9 Marks, Trinity Presbyterian, approximately 5 miles. Doable for a for a determined person, which I believe Brain is. So, I sent an e-mail to the Pastor, Michael Langer, asking if his church would welcome Brian and possibly connect him with a mentor. Within the hour I received a reply, ‘Absolutely…’ on both a welcoming church and a possible mentor. Praise God.
The next day I was contacted by phone from George, a member of Trinity. He loved to help Brian; he lives in Blue Island so if Bran needs a ride, he has one. A mentor, I'm very willing…, I have a family history of alcoholism... I'm also open to visiting him before his parole date.' God is great! I told George I'd follow-up with Brian and see if he is willing to pursue the church and mentor offer. 'Yes!' 'Are you open to George com visit you before your release date?" "Yes!" Let me backtrack a bit Brian's request for a church came two weeks before his parole date. And God was not done yet with filling my heart with joy let alone Brian's. As I was entering Sheridan Friday and Brain was being released we crossed paths as he was exiting, a quick pause to shake my hand and shared as he walked away 'He visited me this week, thanks!’
Omnes gloriam Deo (All glory be to God).
Books from a Publisher to a Prison
In March I attended the Ligonier Ministries 2017 National Conference in Orlando. Jack Jenkins, who pastors a church in Orlando and I met while he was a guest instructor at Chaplain Training Academy last Fall and his wife Nora hosted me saving SOCPM lodging costs.
Conferences have been a good place to get meet with current SOCPM ministry partners and hopefully get connected to new partnerships. My hope this year was to plug in with a few book publishers.
At The Banner of Truth Publishers booth, a publisher of many Puritan classics as well as current authors of Christian theology, I met Pat Daly. I and shared a bit about SOCPM and SOCPM’s desire to give students, who complete an SOCPM course, a book related in addition to their certificate.
Pat suggested I contact him after the conference. Following up on Pat's suggestion, Banner of Truth is donating 85 copies of “Sermon on the Mount” by Sinclair Ferguson. The book matches well with the soon to be completed Discipleship course, 'Sermon on the Mount' taught by none other than Sinclair Ferguson (Read Conference to Classroom below about another blessing from LMNC 2017).
SOCPM connected with several other ministries (White Horse Inn, Christian Focus Publishers, P & R Publishers) in hopes of providing SOCPM students additional resources. One that looks very exciting and promising is with White Hose Inn by using some of their Core Christianity course material in future SOCPM Discipleship classes. Please pray that any potential partnerships that would glorify God would come to fruition.
videt Deum, (God Provides)
A Speaker from a Conference to the Classroom
Sinclair Ferguson, a highly recognized and respected theologian, was one of the speakers at LMNC 2017. Being that SOCPM is currently teaching his course 'The Sermon on the Mount" I wanted to share that with him. As I was listening to his teaching, the Holy Spirit prompted me also to ask him if he'd be willing to personalize a short video message to my SOCPM students.
After some strong persuading by the Holy Spirit, I approached Dr. Ferguson. I said to him something to the effect "Hi Dr. Ferguson I'm ... I'm currently teaching 'Sermon on the Mount' to my students. What are the odds other than a million to one (don't ask me where the 'million to one' thing came from, I'm figuring the Holy Spirit let me speak on my own) of recording a short video message to my students?' I, the forever pessimist was expecting some kind words of encouragement, but because of a very busy schedule, he wouldn't be able to do it. But when he 'Give your e-mail to someone from Ligonier, and I'll be sure to follow-up with you.’ I was all giggly inside as I made a quick path to Dave Theriault a Ligonier staff person who I've to know for a few years and shared Dr. Ferguson's reply.
Again the pessimist inside me was expecting Dave to say something like ‘Sorry Scott, but…’ Instead, Dave stated Dr. Ferguson was scheduled to do some other recording for Ligonier, so it would be an opportune time to pursue. Would I hear back though? Check it out!
Fiduciam in omnibus (Trust God in All Things)