Monday, May 11, 2009
Willow Creek Community Church Members Go Into Cook County Jail
I was there. It was an amazing time. The men are so appreciative of those that service. If ever you felt even the tiniest bit of compassion for those that are incarcerated, I urge you to check into all the opportunities that are out there for the jail and prison ministry. You'll be rewarded over and over, again for it. I always walk away feeling more blessed then I have blessed.
Here's what was posted on Willow Creeks blog for Compassion and Justice.
Cook County Jail Easter Service
……”I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:36
Dedicated volunteers from Willow Creek Chicago and South Barrington provided Easter services at the Cook County Jail on April 16. “One hundred and sixty inmates attended, and twenty percent of them accepted or rededicated their lives to Christ,” said Gaius Cosman, who leads a team that visits the jail weekly.
Easter in Jail
Willow Creek Chicago’s entire choir came and led an exhilarating time of worship. Jose Figuerosa, who is finishing his Master’s degree in Urban Studies and Discipleship at Moody Bible Institute, shared how the Lord touched his life as a Cook County Jail inmate.
Brownies and cookies were distributed to the inmates and officers. The celebration ended with the men joining hands in prayer. “Normally,” said Gauis, “the inmates divide into small groups where they share prayer requests and study Scripture.” But in order to serve the large number of inmates who wanted to attend, they held three services. The men had an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and to receive a Bible in their first language.
Life Change from Serving
Gaius, the team leader, was looking for a place to volunteer when he saw an announcement in the Willow Creek program about the Cook County Jail ministry. Eleven years later, he continues to serve there faithfully. “Serving the inmates,” he said, “has been the single most important factor in my growth as a Christian.”
Another Willow Creek team member related his own personal experience saying, “These men are dealing with the after effects of drugs. When they first come in, they’re tough guys with downcast faces. But when these inmates connect with a volunteer, they look forward to seeing them weekly.” Many of the prisoners attend a 12-Step program because they know their lives must radically change to be successful in the outside world.
The Great Reunion in the Sky
The Cook County Jail ministry has been in existence for eleven years. Bill Daughaday, the founder, taught his team “to serve the inmates and look forward to the great reunion in the sky where so many of these men will come up to you and state how their lives were changed at Cook County Jail.” He encourages Christians “to get out of their comfort zones and volunteer.”
Men who would like to serve at the Cook County Jail, should contact Gauis Cosman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-545-8676.