High Country Prison Ministries
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell Counties
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)
God promises that in the darkest of times, the most difficult of circumstances when the world seems dark and terrifying, God offers the believing heart an opportunity to exchange grief for joy. This exchange is exemplified in the witness of Scripture describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who had followed Jesus, who had believed in His teaching and walked in His ways had been forced into the agonizing place of despair when they had heard Him draw His last breaths, utter His last words and the last signs of life leave His body. Jesus was dead. His work was over. His disciples left only with the echoes of His teaching in their hearts and minds…
Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story! Rather the prophetic declaration of God’s Provision for the world was that there would one day be an incredible exchange, a reversal of fortune that would testify to the Love and Care of Almighty God! Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for the lifting of the heavy-hearted. This is where the Word of God found the Chaplain today. Wrestling with the heaviness of heart brought on by somber ‘anniversaries’, specifically the tragic loss of life of some NCDPS ‘family members’ in recent years, one cannot help but pray with fervor for those whom one share the honor of serving in this context.
On this particular day, included in the Chaplain’s prayers were the family members of those who have died in the line of duty in recent years. Thoughts of grieving loved ones and fellow employees brought heaviness of heart and tears to his eyes. So the prayers shifted to those who continue to serve, placing themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the incarcerated, their families, and for the Peace of Christ that passes all understanding.
I pray the same for the many fine people I have had the privilege to share this journey with these past seven years I have had the honor to serve as Community Funded Chaplain at Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution. Your support and prayers have sustained this work through good times and challenging times. Your trust in me as God’s servant in the position of Chaplain has allowed me to witness to the goodness of God often in the darkest moments.
This will be my last article as Chaplain at Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution as I have accepted a new opportunity to serve God by serving others. Many thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged me in this role. But this is not the end of the story! The same God that brought me the gift of serving as Chaplain here will one day bring another Chaplain to this place. That Chaplain will need the same level of support and friendship that you all have shown me.
Please remember to pray and support the incarcerated, the staff, and the families whose lives are affected by incarceration each day. May God Bless you for your faithful support, and May the Lord raise up a new Chaplain to serve this community. Finally, may God’s Grace abide within the gates and behind the walls and I will continue to pray for Protection, Peace and Potential to be found in every person who enters and exits the prison. To God Be the Glory. Amen.
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good Christian news from Jody HERE.