Residents Encounter Christ

Submitted by Bob Tongue

Elizabeth and I started working with the REC (Residents Encounter Christ) Ministry 4 years ago at the Chicopee Women's Prison. At that time it was not a supported ministry of our church. After the first year, Christ Presbyterian Church agreed to help support the ministry by supplying monies to purchase candy for the REC weekends. The REC weekends are planned events that happen 3 times a year when 35 woman residents come to spend the weekend and encounter Christ. Many of these women have had no exposure to Christ and come for a “taste” of God. Many come lured by the candy, pizza, and time away from their pods. During the course of the weekend, they are bombarded with the love of Christ through the volunteers. The REC volunteers present 10 – 14 talks that deal with how Christ has affected their lives and how He wants to have a relationship with the residents. The response is phenomenal. At the end of the first day, the residents are presented with an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Most, if not all, do. After the weekend, there are Wednesday night sessions called REC reunions, where the residents can continue to grow their relationship with Jesus Christ with the help of the REC volunteers.

This year the REC ministry was expanded to include women at the minimum facility. The minimum group meets on Thursday nights and gives the women a much needed spiritual lift to their weeks. In both groups, the women are learning about Christ and growing in their faith. The women are even starting to form their own study groups in the pods and are helping each other to stay on track in their faith walk. The growth that these women have shown is a real sign of the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives under any circumstances. It is indeed a blessing to be involved and to see these women find hope and salvation in Jesus Christ. It is also a blessing to know that our church family is supporting this ministry financially and prayerfully and with volunteers. Thank you for helping us bring the saving grace of Jesus Christ behind the prison walls.

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