Today I attended the monthly men’s fellowship luncheon at The Pentecostals (church) in West Monroe. Each month a well known community leader, politician, coach, or other notable speaks. There is also singing by either a group or individual, and of course great fellowship around a delicious meal prepared by a local businessman and the ladies from the Pentecostal church. The event is free and very well done. (They also have a monthly luncheon for ladies)
Today’s speaker was our Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney. He gave a very informative and interesting talk about things the sheriff’s office is doing to make our parish safer and more appealing economically. Then, near the end of his presentation he unveiled something that had been covered by a large white cloth with two signs that said “Secret Weapon“. All of us wondered what it could be.
When the white cloth was pulled away we saw a large galvanized cattle tank used to water cows. He said that in his fight against crime this is his newest secret weapon, a portable baptistery. He went on to tell of the dozens of inmates (223 out of a population of 800) who have found Christ and have been baptised in the last few months. He mentioned Celebrate Recovery and what a fine job they are doing inside the bars and razor wire fences.
The recidivism rate in our parish is 80% compared to a national average of only 40%. He is convinced the way to lower that rate and our crime rate is to change hearts one man at a time. What a great thing for our sheriff to be proudly displaying a baptistery and saying faith in Jesus is the way to make our communities better!
This story reminded me that our Angola Prison, with one of the worst reputations in the nation for being a violent, tough place, has been transformed by winning men to Christ. Violence has greatly diminished since they have aggressively been allowing Christ to be preached and have even sent out missionaries two by two into other prisons to evangelize and disciple men for Christ.
The gates of hell, nor the gates of prisons, will prevail against what God is doing in bringing sons and daughters to himself. I am so proud of Mac and Mary Owen for bringing Celebrate Recovery to our people. And, I am equally proud of my friend John Grigson and others who head up CRInside. They are building churches inside the walls!
Christ be praised for the good things He has done and is doing!