February, 2014

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Communion – Last Thursday I had the great joy to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time among 22 prisoners at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. I thank chaplains Daniel Croce and Rick Chamberlain for providing everything I needed to administer the communion. I prepared a special liturgy for this Holy Sacrament, with bible texts, prayers and Spanish songs, including an original song by one of the inmates titled “Yo Tengo Gozo”, or “I Rejoice” in English. The main message of this song is, “I rejoice because Christ lives in me”. The inmates sang it enthusiastically.

As part of the Communion liturgy there was a time when those who wanted, could express their own reasons for their joy. Among those who did it, two inmates’ words were very powerful to me. One said he is grateful to God for bringing him to prison, because in that place he is experiencing deep changes in his life. Another one said he was giving thanks to God because, after a couple of years in prison, he was having the opportunity to be part of The Lord’s Supper again.

Those who attended returned to their cells with joyful heart. At the end, they spontaneously started to salute one another with the Peace of Christ. My intention is to celebrate the Communion every month.

A Very Welcomed Help – After the presentation of a video at the Presbytery meeting, Mr. Rick Koconis, a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Newport, offered his professional services to help PIM produce videos. This coming March 8th, we will hold a special meeting with eight former inmates and some members of PIM’s Steering Committee. Rick will record testimonies and images to produce a video, which we will enter into a contest hosted by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

 Donations received:

– H. Anderson & Brenda Burgess

– Henry Ruppenthal

– Rosemarie Smith

– Dana Lindsley

– IPI do Brasil

– Synod of Northeastern – NEPPG Grant

– First Presbyterian Church – Newport, RI

– First Presbyterian Church – Stamford, CT

– Bethel Presbyterian Church – Marlborough, MA

– Igreja Presbiteriana de Boston

 ATENCION, THE PRESBYTERY CHANGED ITS MAIL ADDRESS:

Send your donations by check or money order made out to: Presbytery of Southern New England – P.O. Box 388, Chester, CT 06412 – Important: write a note designating your offer to the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry.

 February Attendance

Day

Prison (all units)

Attendance

05

Boston

Winter storm

06

Plymouth

50

07

Bristol

24

12

Boston

20

13

Plymouth

14

14

Bristol

28

19

Boston

20

20

Plymouth

45

21

Bristol

24

26

Boston

12

27

Plymouth

51

31

Bristol

25

 Pursuing Baptism – Some time ago I wrote about a Brazilian man who became a follower of Jesus while in prison. We were making arrangements to baptize him in the Boston prison at his request. Just as we were nearly ready, he was transferred to the prison in Plymouth, where we continue to strive for his baptism. He took the initiative to contact the correctional facility’s leadership, but they denied his request. But it didn’t obfuscate his faith. On the contrary, his faith is stronger each day.  He has been in prison for more than 14 months now and he continues fighting his case to be allowed to stay in the USA. The only thing he knows for sure, is that, wherever he will be, whether released or deported, he will eventually realize his dream to be baptized. He asked me for a presentation letter to help him find a church after he leaves prison.

 Would the story be repeated? – I heard a very powerful testimony from Pastor Daniel Croce, the chaplain at Plymouth County Correctional Facility. Many years ago he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, causing the death of a police officer. Dan was sentenced and spent many months in prison where, through chaplain-led bible studies, he became a Christian. In his testimony, Dan says he understood from the Bible that he was sinner apart from God. However, he found God’s grace. In prison he wanted to know more and more about the life God wants for him.  After he left prison, he served among many ministries at a local church and went to Seminary. After he graduated, he received a call from the chaplain at the Plymouth facility. The chaplain explained to him that he was about to retire and invited him to apply for the position. So he did it, and since then, he is serving as chaplain of that Correctional Facility. You can read his testimony at: http://www.newhopecm.org/bio.htm

I’m writing about Dan’s testimony because this story can be repeated again. I have heard some of the inmates I serve talking about their desires of serving God when they leave prison. Last week I was talking with one of them who has a three year sentence, still with two years left to serve. His parents are pastors of a Spanish speaking Pentecostal church in the USA and he grew up knowing many biblical stories. I have no idea of the nature of his crime, but I can feel God’s spirit doing a new thing in his life. He is looking for resources that help him learn more about the bible in order to help other inmates. As he learns new things, he tries to teach others. When he leaves, he will look for a seminary to join his parents in ministry.

Always when I can, I try to instill in their hearts and minds the desire to serve God in the way God wants to use them. For some, this will mean full-time ministry. For others,  it will mean leadership positions in local churches, Sunday school teachers, etc. The most important thing is to serve our Lord Jesus Christ who saved us by his grace.

 

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