Going to prison for ministry

Fri, 2012-07-20 11:20 -- univcomm
For some students, AU's prison ministry is an opportunity to be involved in the community while also ministering to others. During a chapel/convocation earlier this semester, senior student ministry leader Lerone Martin made an announcement in an attempt to interest students. Although 50 students signed up, only 11 students attended the first interest meeting. Since then, an additional eight women and seven men have showed interest in being involved. “We have a great number of dedicated individuals,” said AU senior Lerone Martin, leader of the Prison Ministry.

Students involved in the ministry must go through an extensive employment history and background check process. While waiting for the paperwork to be processed, the students visit the Madison county Youth Center once a week to observe Martin ministering to the youth, whose ages range from 9 to 18.

Most of the youth are in the facility for reasons ranging from being abused to being placed in the facility due to a court order.

While students have not been able to work closely with the juveniles, the students have been through an orientation process. “We have broken the barrier,” says junior philosophy and communication major Steven Bowers. “They (the juveniles) do sense our presence.”

While Bowers is not a ministry major, he was searching for a ministry to be involved in. “I was looking for an opportunity to put my faith into deeds,” he said.

Sophomore David Winters, an education major, said he became involved in the ministry because it would be a valuable experience for his teaching career.

“I was looking for a ministry to get involved in,” said Winters. “I heard about it through a chapel announcement and wanted to be a part of it.”

During their visits to the facility, students work in small groups with the juveniles. One-on-one interaction is not advised because most of the juveniles fear getting too close with someone. For instance, students conduct Bible studies in small groups, giving them an opportunity to share their faith with the juveniles.

Some of the juveniles, however, are comfortable with the students visiting and have even shown interest in what AU students have to share. “They need something, but they don’t know what it is,” said freshman Anderson Schulle. “They have questions and are impressed with us as Christians.”

Schulle has been to the facility twice, and as a Christian ministry major, he wants to show them hope and a new way of living.

“It’s a Biblical command to minister,” Schulle commented about his reasoning for becoming involved in the ministry.

Perhaps the toughest part about being involved in this ministry, however, is the uncertainty of the juveniles’ future. “You can’t expect much, but you plant a seed and hope fruit comes out of it,” Schulle admitted. “You learn to trust God.”

----Ryan McGee is a student writer for the Andersonian, Anderson University’s weekly campus newspaper.