“What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for the Seventh-day Adventist group for six years!” exclaimed a young inmate at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.
Since June 14, 2013, volunteers from Hartland College Prison Ministry (HCPM) have been giving Bible studies at this facility.
“The very first day we arrived, one woman told us that someone gave her the book Christ Object Lessons, but she never knew which denomination they were,” relates Ivonne Restrepo. “The book moved her heart to the point where she wanted to know more about the author—Ellen G. White.
“Then someone told her that Ellen was a Seventh-day Adventist. So when she heard that Adventist volunteers were coming to give Bible studies, she immediately signed up. She lent the book to another inmate so she could read it.”
Ivonne adds, “The Holy Spirit was working on the women way before we came. That very much encouraged us.” Alexa Blair informs us, “Two of them want to be baptized and follow Jesus all the way.”
One inmate says, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” Another shares, “I have not slept so soundly until I started attending the Seventh-day Adventist Bible study and listening to gospel music at nights and in the mornings.”
In the facility’s waiting area, the HCPM volunteers met the pastor and some members of the Love, Faith, and Hope Church—a nondenominational group of Sabbath keepers. These people give Bible studies to approximately 60 inmates. But how did they become Sabbath keepers?
In 2001, the still small voice spoke to the church elder: “Are you willing to die for Me?” “Die for you, Lord?” “Are you willing to suffer persecution for Me as I suffered for you?” “Yes, Lord. I am willing.” “I will send you a test that will seal My relationship with you. Look for the Sabbath in the Bible. This test will bring suffering and persecution.”
After the elder related the incident to his church, his pastor stated, “If this test will seal our relationship with Him, the Lord would have to show each one of us the same thing.” The church studied the subject from the Bible, and eventually they all chose to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
The minister and his church were mentioned during the 30th anniversary presentation at Hartland’s 2013 camp meeting, which he and some of the members visited. “Every Friday, we enjoy having some time to talk and share with them,” says Ivonne.
Truly, prison ministry is a wonderful way to reach and meet special people!