Holy Order of the Inadequate (HOI)

The Gate through which God Enters
The Gate through which God Enters

That’s in the signature block of Chaplain Bill Brown, Director of Chaplaincy, and Manager of the Kairos Prison Ministry in a large State Prison in San Diego, California.  Since 2002, Chaplain Bill has seen the hand of God work in amazing ways.  I recently caught up with him and asked if he had any encouraging stories he could share.  This is some of what he said:

“I can tell stories all day long of God’s miracles that take place on a daily basis…At the last Kairos Weekend a lead litigant (inmate suing the state to meet the religious needs of Wiccans throughout the California Department of Corrections) came to Jesus and is now attending services and attending the class for new believers.”

He continued:  “A ‘general’ under the founder of the ‘Crips’ has been coming back into the prison where he was an inmate, as a chapel volunteer. For about six years God has been using him powerfully to communicate a message of hope for lasting change and purpose in life. His testimony is powerful, and he is available if you need a speaker to share what God can do.”

“A former ‘high priest’ in the church of Satan has been a member of our Praise and Worship team for a couple of years in the maximum security unit, and he is a leader in our evangelism team there.

“An inmate who was raised Muslim and was healed from stage 4 cancer in the name of Jesus, regularly brings Muslim friends to a Kairos Weekend, and we see Muslims coming to Jesus on a regular basis.”

Then Chaplain Bill shared an interesting story of ministry to Muslims in an unusual, loving way:

“For several years the Christian Volunteers have stepped up and given their time to supervise the inmates in the maximum security unit during Ramadan (Muslim month of fasting). Otherwise, they would not be able to have daily services. We build bridges of unconditional love, and combined with fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit does amazing things.”

Here are statistics for the first six months of 2015:

  • Worship Services – 390
  • Bill’s Personal Counseling (does not include volunteers who counsel) – 143
  • Bible Studies – 253
  • Other discipleship programs (new believer classes, Self-confrontation, praise & worship practices, prayer meetings) – 384

Bill shared an insight to what is making this ministry work: “Intercessory Prayer meetings are the place where we make progress. God hears and answers the prayers of His people.”

When asked to share what other believers can pray for, he listed three critical requests:

  1. For God to send one of His choice servants to replace me when I retire (Dec. ’16); and a smooth transition so that the program continues to thrive.
  2. For God to pour out His Holy Spirit and move mightily among inmates and volunteers.
  3. The salvation and discipleship of hundreds of inmates.

    R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility
    R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Some closing thoughts: Imagine you are the Lead Pastor of a 3600 person, multi-site megachurch, with three locations, and five church
facilities.  To carry out 200 monthly worship services, you utilize a staff of over 500 volunteers.  You showed up in 2002 as a Protestant Chaplain, and God has used you, a self-confessed member of the “Holy Order of the Inadequate” (HOI) to lead the development of what we see today.

How did this happen?  A second look at Chaplain Bill’s signature block reveals the “secret.”  There we also read, a second set of three initials “AIJ” (Adequate in Jesus).   Chaplain Bill Brown includes “HOI” and “AIJ” as a reminder that though we are all members of the “Holy Order of the Inadequate (HOI), when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we are “AIJ” (Adequate in Jesus), and able to do His will and work on this earth.

God is at work in amazing ways in some unusual places.  Someone said that when God was kicked out of U.S. schools, He went to work in the U.S. Prison System where He was still welcome.  Chaplain Bill’s reports supports that contention.

If you are interested in pursuing professional ministry in a correctional setting, or any other chaplain specialty, federal or civilian, contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org or check out our website at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.

 

     

 

Making Cents Out of Christmas

According to ShopperTrak, consumers spent an estimated $10.4 billion in stores on Black Friday and $1.8 billion on Thanksgiving.  There is more.  CNN just released figures that online sales on Cyber Monday most likely will reach $3 billion for the first time, making it the largest single day for digital sales in history.
Hearing the “good news” (my sarcasm) of historic sales, I wanted to scream, “What about Christmas?”  We all know when it comes to our society celebrating Christmas, it is not about the miracle of Christ’s birth.  In reality it comes down to whether or not the retailers can get out of the “red” and into the “black”.
It is no surprise to understand that Christmas is not defined by money or retail goals, but by the incredible miracle of Christ’s birth.  Christmas is much more than just the birth of a baby.  It is when God became a man.  The miracle we call the Incarnation.  How will this amazing truth change your life?
I am having the privilege of discipling a young Millennial right now.  He recently came out of church with us and said, “I just got kicked in the stomach!”  Curious about what he was processing, I asked for clarification.  It was quite simple really.  God spoke to him, he was under conviction and he needed to make some changes.  I love what I saw in this young disciple as he wrestled with life-changing truth.
Truth.  The Incarnation of Christ is the ultimate and final disclosure of the eternal God.  Can you grasp that?  It answers for us the mystery of who God is, what God is like, and what God wants.  The Incarnation is the self-revelation of God Himself, the pre-existent Son of God and the second person of the Trinity taking human form.  Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  In the Incarnation, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV).  The Word here is the name of the Eternal God and the flesh is the designation of a time-bound human being in contrast to God.  God sent His Son born of a woman.  Yet the Word, who is God, continues to be what He was before becoming flesh (John 1:1).  Try to explain all that to the National Federation of Retailers.

I always like to ask the question after hearing something profound, “So what?  How does that impact my life?”   You know, there is a result to this incredible intervention of God into the world who was “made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7).  First, the eternal love of God is revealed to the entire world in its fullest expression, so all that believe will have eternal life (John 3:16).  Second, He who shared of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14) causes those who believe to share in the same divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  Third, Jesus who committed no sin was made sin that those who believe might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Lastly, Jesus who came to reconcile the world unto Himself has given to those who believe the work of reconciliation to a lost world (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Pat Phinney
My prayer for us this Christmas is that our celebration would go far beyond traditional cultural symbols such as profit margins, decorative lights, festive parties and lavish gift-giving.  May your focus be upon the celebration of the “Gift of God” that is meant to provide eternal life for all who sincerely seek Him.  I enjoy the thought that the Eternal One loves this broken world more than I can even imagine.
I am so blessed to serve as your Regional Director for CB North Central.  Karen and I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christ-filled Christmas.  We look forward to serving you for years to come.
Pat Phinney
CBNC Regional Director

 

A Lesson on Personal Safety, from a WW2 Survivor 

Franca Silvana DiSacco, was born in Italy in 1930 in a small village outside Pisa.  The second oldest of seven children, she went to school through the sixth grade before the hostilities of WW2 closed it.  Her father, a stone mason, was sent north into Austria as part of Mussolini’s contribution to Hitler’s war effort.  There he was injured.  Walking home barefoot, he developed gangrene and arrived only to die in his wife’s arms.  Fatherless, Franca and her six siblings scrounged food to survive.  In 1943 she was shot through her left leg while entering an orchard guarded by the Germans; and was rescued by her two brothers and an approaching American Infantry patrol.  She recovered, and in 1946 was raped and impregnated by an American pilot at Darby Field.  In 1949 she married a US Army Soldier, Tech Sergeant Glenn Meverden, who brought her to America.  Together, they had seven children, three girls and four boys.  My mother knew war, and learned how to survive.

In the summer of 2002, I visited mama Franca in her small apartment in Green Bay, WI.  I had orders to deploy as the chaplain of a Special Forces (Green Beret) Battalion to Afghanistan.  As her oldest son, I felt it important to tell her face-to-face, and let her know that I loved her.  I called to tell her the date and time of my visit.  She was waiting for me with a light lunch prepared.  We sat down at her small kitchen table.  I started to speak, but she raised her hand for me to stop.  She looked me in the eyes and said: “You are going to Afghanistan; it is a dangerous place.  Remember tree (sic) things.” She held up her thumb and two fingers in southern European style.  “Number one: always be aware of your surroundings.  Wherever you go, look around at the people, notice what they have in their hands, look to see if they have something under their clothes, like a gun or grenade.”  With her thumb up, she extended her pointer finger, “Number two: I know you American soldiers, you will get tired of eating Army food and want to go into town to eat.  When you enter a restaurant, sit with your back to the wall facing the front door and look for a back door.  Watch everyone who comes in, notice what they are carrying and wearing.  Look for anything dangerous.”  Then her third and middle finger extended, “Tree (she maintained her distinct Italian accent), when you pull the pin on a grenade, you get rid of it real fast!”  She wasn’t smiling or joking.  She was speaking of her wartime experience.  In nearly 40 years of military experience, I’ve never heard a better briefing on personal security and Rules of Engagement.

I share this story out of concern for you and your families, during these dangerous “last days.”  Whether your chaplaincy is federal or civilian, you’re on a police or fire ride-a-long, in the ER, a prison facility, or a combat zone; whether on land, sea or air, in the US or abroad, please remember “Mama Franca’s” advice to her son.  Maintain situational awareness, be aware of escape routes, and, if attacked, throw whatever you have at your attacker.  Jesus warned us, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)  Take care and teach your children well.

-Chaplain Andy