High Country Prison Ministry
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell County
Returning home from duty at Fort Bragg years ago I had a most enlightening experience. (Pun intended!) Driving up 1-95 with my thoughts full of food, upcoming appointments, food, sermons and food (just keeping it real!) I noted what appeared to be an accident scene ahead. And for whatever reason traffic was being forced off the exit to a detour. (Btw: This was BC, Before Cellphones! 😊)
The problem was that the detour’s route was completely unmarked. My amazing navigational senses immediately leaped into action by telling me the best course of action would be… (Are you ready for this?) …to follow the car in front of me! After all, this seemed to be the darkest, dreariest, least marked road I had ever traveled in North Carolina.
Following them for some time I began to imagine that this might turn out to be a surprising short cut home that I was about to discover. What a joy it would be to happen upon a way to save time and money and find oneself closer to food! (I mean, Home!)
By now you’ve probably guessed what happened to my little travel fantasy. It faded quickly away when finally, a road sign that told me I was just a few (VERY FEW!) miles away from where I was when I entered the detour!
Sounds a lot like life doesn’t it? Unexpected detours abound and we are often left searching. The easy thing to do is fall in line with those around us and just keep on trucking.
But the right thing to do, the BEST thing to do is to consult life’s roadmap (Spell that B-I-B-L-E!) and trust God to lead us home. God’s Word is God’s Way of leading us. The only question is if we will follow.
Incarceration is a detour for many who are now longing to get back on a path towards hope and home. Their detour can feel too long or complicated to endure. But I thank God every day for the incredible privilege to minister amongst those who have detoured and now face the consequences and challenges in finding their way back. I get to assist them in getting their hands on and their hearts into the Truth of the Scriptures.
The Community Funded Chaplains in North Carolina are exactly that, Chaplains in prisons whose positions are funded through the generous giving of the community. The unique challenge for our area is that there are two, yes TWO correctional facilities within one-half mile of each other. When I arrived at AMCI (Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution) in 2015 I learned that each prison had a Community Funded Chaplain who serves over 800 offenders PLUS staff at their respective locations. That means that between the two of us, we serve as ministers to well over 2,000 people every single day. We preach, teach and counsel. We baptize and disciple. We encourage, enlighten and exhort. We are present for offenders and staff who have experienced deaths in their families and support them in their grief. We provide religious support across faith and denominational boundaries. Most importantly, we do all of these things as servants of God. As Chaplains we are not competitors, we are co-laborers. It is important to note that each of us is responsible for soliciting the financial and spiritual support necessary to do the work within our respective institutions.
Without your support, the work of the Chaplains could cease in our area. The incarcerated and the staff that oversee them would be burdened.
Thank you for your faithful support of our ministries!
Please, prayerfully consider supporting the ministry of your Community Funded Chaplains. Our work depends on the generosity of individuals, churches, civic groups and everyone who gives through the charitable organizations that sponsor us! Thank you and God Bless You for making ministry to those in prison possible in our community!
High Country Prison Ministry: Chaplain Jody Griffin Blue Ridge Prison Ministry: Chaplain Don Stafford
PO Box 161 278 Chapel Street
Crossnore, NC 28681 Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution Mountain View Correctional Institution
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution.