High Point Jail Ministry helps inmates turn lives around
When F.E. White returned to the High Point Jail in January and found himself in the exact same cell he had occupied two years earlier, maybe that’s when he realized his life wasn’t going anywhere.
But when a High Point Jail Ministry volunteer showed up one Sunday
handing out Bibles and ministering to the inmates — and White recognized him as the same volunteer he had met there two years earlier — that’s when he realized God was trying to tell him something.
“I approached him, and we sat and talked,” the 35-year-old High Point man recalls. “He remembered me from when I was here two years before. We discussed why I was here in jail, and we talked about the fact that God has a plan for me, and this definitely isn’t it.”
By the time they were done talking and reading Scripture, White had recommitted his life to Christ – something he had done early in his life, before he got mixed up with the wrong crowd. Before he began experimenting with drugs. Before he began to struggle with anger issues. Before he had a series of run-ins with the law, most of them related to assaults on females.
“This time something just stirred up inside of me,” White says. “(The volunteer) asked me to read John 3:16, but to read it slowly. I did that, and he asked me, ‘How do you feel?’ I said, ‘I feel like I’m a new creation.’ And from that point on, I just felt like everything was gonna be OK.”
White is quick to give credit to God for not giving up on him, but he’s also quick to praise the High Point Jail Ministry and the volunteer who ministered to him.
“I’m very thankful for him,” White says. “God put him in my life at the right time.”
That’s what High Point Jail Ministry is all about — ministering to inmates at a time when they need it most, says Chaplain Joyce Setchfield, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
“We’re trying to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” she says.
“Sometimes we talk to them about the fact that if God created you, then you’re a person of worth and of value. Sometimes inmates begin to think that they’re not worthy or valuable because they’ve come here to the jail, and because society says they’re not valuable.”
The ministry strives to let the inmates know that people care about them and, more importantly, that God still cares about them, no matter what they’ve done, Setchfield says.
Ministry volunteers from a number of local churches provide worship services and Bible studies — in English and Spanish — more than 40 times a week, according to ministry literature.
Among some of the other services provided by the ministry are:
•Regularly scheduled devotionals.
•Life enrichment classes that focus on such topics as marriage, parenting, communication and budgeting.
•“Going for the Gold,” a weekend seminar that helps inmates make productive plans for their future once they’re out of jail.
•Celebrate Recovery, a weekend seminar that helps inmates recover from abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce and other issues.
•Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
•A library of more than 900 Christian books.
•Classes focusing on anger management and building healthy relationships.
White, who was released on bond in early March, says the jail ministry programs make a huge difference for inmates who sincerely want to change.
“The thing about jail is, you’re in a constant battle of spiritual warfare,” he says. “There’s so much negativity behind those walls, but you have to continue to trust in God and believe. That’s where it’s at, is believing there’s a purpose for this, and that God wants what’s good for us.”
Chandrica Malone is another inmate who has benefited from the High Point Jail Ministry. The 20-year-old High Point woman, who has two small children, committed her life to Christ two months ago and went through an intensive Bible study to learn more about God.
“It has changed me a lot,” she says. “It’s made me more patient — and not just patient, but patient with a positive attitude. ... The devil can talk to you as much as the Lord can talk to you, so he will put these thoughts in my head that will make me lose my patience and lose my positive attitude, but I have to pray to God to keep me going on His path.”
Both inmates say they want to help others, just as the High Point Jail Ministry has helped them.
“I can tell inmates that I used to wear that same jumpsuit,” White says. “But I would also tell them not to let your past dictate your future. We all have a story to tell, so no matter what’s going on or what has happened, just know that good can come out of any and every situation as long as you put God first.”
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The High Point Jail Ministry’s 16th annual fundraising golf tournament will be held May 10 at Olde Homeplace Golf Course, 4295 Wallburg Road, Winston-Salem.
Registration for the four-man, captain’s choice tournament begins at noon, with a shotgun start at 1 p.m.
The entry fee is $50 per person and includes greens fees, cart fee, practice range with one basket of balls per golfer, and dinner. Mulligans and tee-busters may be purchased for $5 each.
Trophies and door prizes will be awarded.
To guarantee a spot in the tournament, entry fees must be received by Wednesday. Team entries will be accepted through May 8 as long as spots are available.
For a registration form, visit www.hpjm.org, send an email to HPJMinistries@co.guilford.nc.us, or call Chaplain Joyce Setchfield at (336) 641-6970.
Family members and guests are invited to join the golfers after the tournament for a barbecue dinner. The cost is $10 per guest, and reservations are required by calling Setchfield at the number above.
All proceeds will go to the High Point Jail Ministry.