THE PHYSICIAN’S HELPERS
Being arrested, hand-cuffed and placed behind bars provides the very best opportunity for a person to view themselves for who they really are. The façade is gone. No point in lying to yourself anymore. Trying to hide the truth from the law, from friends, family and everyone else is an ongoing activity. But being alone with one’s guilt and shame can be, and should be, heart breaking. A self broken heart is probably the most intense pain a human being can experience. There is no one to blame. It’s a self inflicted wound. There is only one Physician who can heal this wound. The Physician begins by sending in a helper to tell the broken hearted, “You know, you haven’t been too bad to be forgiven.”
THE TURNING POINT
“Turning point” is a clear concise definition of the word crisis. When the arrest comes, so comes the crisis. The status quo will no longer work. The normal flow of life has stopped. The pieces of life have all popped out. The frantic rush is to put them back in place. But it doesn’t work. All control is lost. The crisis is firmly in place. This life has reached a turning point.
Which way will it turn?
That’s the job of New Leaf Inmate Ministries.
New Leaf Inmate Ministries is what has grown out of the Turning Point classes. As new doors have been opened, as new opportunities to reach more inmates have presented themselves, the need for the structure of the ministry to grow has become evident. First, John Bassett came on board to help Clint teach on the men’s side and then Mae Beasley joined them to carry the teaching ministry over to the women’s side of Middle River Regional Jail. As the live classes increase so increases the number of inmates taking the correspondence course statewide. More and more, little by little, the ministry has grown far past a one-man show. As a result, a new entity has been formed and application for status as a non-profit corporation has been filed. Because Turning Point is a ministry name already being used the name chosen for and the corporation being formed is “New Leaf Inmate Ministries.”
Inmates are almost constantly being moved. Some move from jail on into prison and some go home, either because they have reached the end of their jail sentence or they are released by the court system. In any case, one moves out of the weekly class and someone on the waiting list is allowed to take their place.
But the ones leaving the class aren’t just left hanging in the middle of the course. They continue taking the course by correspondence. As a result we not only have the men we minister to in jail, we also have men scattered all over the state taking the course by correspondence. Other inmates, looking over the shoulder of the one taking the course, often decide they want to take the course and are encouraged to write to New Leaf. The course is provided free of charge to anyone who wants to take it.
There is an overhead involved here, which is one of the reasons for forming the ministry as a non-profit corporation. A few individuals have already been helping by supplying printing paper, envelopes, postage and laser printer cartridges. But as the ministry grows to three, four, maybe five times the original size, the need for financial support also grows. We are asking churches and individuals to consider helping us financially. Some churches are viewing us as a “local mission” work and are preparing to help with annual contributions.
Our operating expenses are just part of the need. In addition to supplying a correspondence course for inmates state-wide, we supply Bibles, and even Study Bibles, for students who ask for them as they continue to grow in their relationship with our Lord. And as funds are available we are helping inmate families who are seriously struggling because one of the wage earners is incarcerated. We are also doing all we can to aid with re-entry, helping ex-inmates find low-cost housing and jobs. These kinds of aids are available when funds are available.
Compiled, written and arranged by Clint Webb in 1991, under the direction and supervision of Dr. Sherry Dennis, Director of Christian Education, West Lauderdale Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale Florida.
This is the course used in the turning point classes. This is the course that has led many inmates to accept Jesus as Savior. This is the course that has an inmate weekly attendance rate of almost 100%. This course teaches how to turn lives over to Jesus and walk with him, not just behind bars, but when back on the streets as well. This is the course that is producing less recidivism than any it has been compared to.
Why? The answer is simple. A life dedicated to following Jesus, a life consecrated to God, has a far better chance of not returning to jail or prison than any other.
With an emphasis on getting well acquainted with God and developing a close and personal relationship with Him, this course often reveals biblical solutions for human problems.
A better understanding of God opens the door to a better understanding of human nature.
- Why do we do the things we do?
- Why do we foolishly try to meet our own needs for things that only God can supply?
- What does God mean about digging cisterns that I can’t hold water?
A man carrying a Bible is seen walking along the catwalk in front of the barred cells in a very old and very large jail in South Florida. The year is 1985. He stopped in front of a large cell housing many inmates. He points between the bars toward no one in particular and says, “may I pray with you?“ And inmate says, “I guess so,“ and walks up to the bars. The man, named Jesse Basnight, says to the inmate, “you know, you haven’t been too bad to be forgiven.“ The inmate replies, “yes sir, I have.“ Jessie says, “no, you haven’t.“ The inmate argues, “YES, I have!” Jesse opened his Bible and the argument continued, but not for long. Jesse and his Bible won the argument. The inmate excepted God’s forgiveness and dedicated his life to Jesus. He also dedicated his life to learning all that he could about this God who could love him enough to forgive his past. His time in prison was spent taking correspondence courses from Moody Bible Institute. He believed God was calling him to a lifetime of emulating Jesse Bassnight and telling men, “you know, you haven’t been too bad to be forgiven.” That man was released from prison three years later on a Thursday morning. By the following Saturday morning, he was back in jail. But this time he was on the good side of the bars and he is the man carrying the Bible. That was August 1988. Jesse went home to Heaven a long time ago. But that ex-inmate is still following in Jesse‘s footsteps. That man is me, Clinton O. (Clint) Webb, Founder, teacher, administrator, and President of New Leaf Inmate Ministries.