California State Department of Corrections
My season as a chaplain in the state prison has come to an end.
My wife and I turn 70 this year, and we recognize that we are not the spring chickens we used to be, and I can no longer maintain the pace of ministry in the prison. I have prayed for a number of years for God to send a godly man to be my successor in this ministry, and I believe He has answered wonderfully, and even given me the opportunity to train him while he has been a volunteer for last four years. Recently he completed his seminary education, was ordained, and has submitted his application for the position. I had the privilege of introducing him to my supervisor and the warden as the man I believe God has called to fill the vacancy created by my retirement. With continuing prayer and by the grace of God, I trust he will be the successful candidate.
As with many successful ministries, there are unsung heroes, and I have been blessed with many hundreds of volunteers to provide hundreds of services and programs each month. As one wise person said, “The chaplain administers so that others can minister.” And, I am grateful to God for blessing His ministry in the prison with so many committed and gifted co-laborers.
But for me, my greatest partner in ministry has been and continues to be my wife, Mary. She is a constant support in innumerable ways. Most significantly she prays for me, the volunteers and the inmates. And, as a volunteer in the chapel program, she has provided classes and counseling, where the Spirit has used her mightily.
So, in our retirement years I want to invest time and energy to be a blessing to her, travel to the places she wants to go, and spend quality time with family. Of course, there is a long list of home projects that need attention before we can travel a lot. But, we also realize that it is important to do the travel while our health is good enough to enjoy it.
Retirement from state service does not mean retirement from the Master’s service. I intend to continue some ministry in the prison as a volunteer, and I am ready to respond as the Spirit directs. And, if God permits, I hope to resume a ministry in Uganda, and I am praying that God will allow me to do that in the fall this year.
I am forever grateful to God for the CBA, and the endorsement that made possible this ministry for the last 14 years. The fruit of these years is fruit that remains. In fact, we have daily reports of the ministry of many former inmates, including lifers, who are bearing much fruit, ministering to their family and friends, growing in their faith, and sustaining a ministry to their communities. They have repented of their evil ways, and have, by the grace of God, become a blessing to many. The problem of crime in our communities is not a legal problem, it is a moral problem; it is a sin problem. And, Jesus condemned sin at the cross, and gave us His Holy Spirit, who transforms the vilest sinner into salt and light, and uses them to transform their worlds, both in prison and in our communities.
(I am standing in the second to the back row on the left wearing a coat and tie.)
May God bless you richly, keep you safe and in good health, and make you a rich blessing to many, everywhere you go, in everything you do, with everyone you meet!
Protestant Chaplain, Retired
Join in wishing Chaplain Bill and Mary Brown “God speed” in this next phase of life, ministry, and travels. You can do so by leaving a message in the Comment section following this post.
If interested in learning more about endorsement for prison ministry, Local, State, or Federal, contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy at firstname.lastname@example.org.