Jail Time for The Story of Hope
Steve and Melanie Hammond run C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Caring Hearts Offering Compassion Information Encouragement & Support) in Yorkshire, NY, that encompasses a pregnancy resource center, biblical counseling ministry, and after school program. Another part of their ministry is a weekly chapel time with men and women at the Wyoming County Jail. In January, they began to go through a study of The Story of Hope with the inmates. By the second week, there were so many men signing up that the correction officers had to begin limiting those who could attend. Steve and Melanie, having a limited time with the inmates each week, received permission to give each one attending a book of their own to study during the week. They also wanted them to have a copy in case they were transferred before hearing the whole message.
One week while they were leaving, Melanie shares that one of the inmates from a locked area called out to them, "I want to hear that book of Hope but they won't let me come because there are too many people. How can I hear about it?" Another week, a young man came in and sat in the back, looking tough and disinterested. As the class went on he seemed to listen more and more intently, until he suddenly called out, "Wait, how many weeks will it take to get to the end?" After being told, he said, "Oh good! I'll be here that long."
The Hammonds use the PowerPoint slide for each event, adding some other pictures and video clips to help those who do not have a very high literacy level. With that in mind, they also use the Global English version of The Story of Hope for an easier reading. The men participate with great questions and input each week. The women's group has been more challenging. They get more sidetracked on other issues. Melanie says, "There is definitely a spiritual battle going on each week." One week, one of the woman started to cry and said, "If what you are telling me is true, then my best friend who just died of an overdose isn't in heaven." Melanie says that they just continue to remind them they are there to share the message God wants them to know – that He has made a way for them to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. A real message of HOPE in a place with so much hopelessness and brokenness.
One of the girls who made a faith response, to trust Jesus for salvation, while in prison has been released and meets each week with Melanie to study The Story of Hope. She is attending church with the Hammonds. Please pray for these men and women who are weekly hearing God's story that they would bow to the truth and find Hope!
A short time ago the prison's board met and the officers commented on how there has been a change in the atmosphere at the jail since starting The Story of Hope studies. Overall the inmates are much calmer and more peaceful. The result of this meeting is that Steve and Melanie were issued prison IDs to be able to enter the jail at any time, and to have one on one counseling with the inmates who desire it. May God be praised!
The pregnancy resource center also reaches out to those who come in with an offer of a story of hope...but that is another story for another day.
Learn more about The Story of Hope Global English.