The parking lot of the Durham (NC) County Jail is not a place most people would see as a location for religious revival, but on June 25, this unlikely setting served as the site for the baptism of 39 of the jail’s prisoners.
“The people that are here today, they’re here because they want to be here and they’re here because they want to make a difference,” Sheriff Mike Andrews told the Charlotte News & Observer. “If these individuals who have made this leap of faith want to take this step, I think it’s only befitting that we have ministers from the community that want to assist us for these individuals.”
Two temporary pools were set up in the parking lot, as men and women clad in bright red jumpsuits were brought out individually or in pairs for the baptisms. Under the watch of corrections officers, the participants were lowered into the water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those who were baptized received a Bible study guide from the sheriff.
“It’s giving us inmates an opportunity to walk in our faith, and I thank them for what they’re doing,” said Reginald Minor, one of the men taking part in the baptism. “I can’t speak for everybody, but I can speak for myself. I know deep down inside it’s bringing me closer and closer to beliefs, my religion. I just look forward to God to help me, that’s all.”
Roughly 30 churches in the Durham area are active in ministering to the men and women at the Durham County Jail, and seven of those churches worked together for months to organize and perform the baptisms. Facility chaplains also assisted in the ceremony.
In jails and prisons across the country, Prison Fellowship volunteers are reaching out to men and women behind bars, proclaiming to them the Gospel and shepherding them to faith in Christ. In addition, they are also providing these prisoners with support, encouragement, and practical advice to help them stay out of prison after they are released. To learn more about what volunteer opportunities are available through Prison Fellowship, and how you can be a part of changing the lives of prisoners and their families, visit www.prisonfellowship.org/action.