Glorious! That’s the word that comes to mind when attempting to describe MCRTL’s first-ever Sanctity of Life/ 40 Days for Life kickoff service held in a prison. John Salmon, a retired prison chaplain and current MCRTL prayer volunteer, had facilitated a connection between the Wynne and Estelle units during the spring 40 Days for Life vigil. That connection then became a weekly collaboration of MCRTL sending Pro-Life prayer points to prison leaders.
MCRTL was recently invited to host the Saturday chapel service on September 7 at Wynne. We came prepared to meet the men and bring the message of Life from some powerful voices in the Pro-Life community. We left immeasurably blessed.
The chapel was packed – with some men standing along the edges. We were told that the chapel’s capacity was over 400. The dynamic line-up of speakers each came with a unique focus and impactful words that seamlessly flowed through the Holy Spirit into one cohesive message.
Some of our speakers were familiar friends to many of the inmates. Ken Brink, MCRTL’s Pro-Life liaison to the units, shared how his life was powerfully impacted through the birth of his godson, whose mother considered abortion, but chose life in spite of a challenging situation. Pastor Dale Inman, who teaches business classes at the prison, emphasized how we must not only recognize the sanctity of Life, but also respond through service and sacrifice. John Salmon gave a precept upon precept explanation of abortion as murder, but also made a moving plea about the importance of compassion for those choosing abortion, as a motivation for us to act to end abortion.
We were honored to be joined by Dr. Haywood Robinson, a rescued and redeemed former abortionist who now serves as Director of Medical Affairs and Education at 40 Days for Life. He described his experience as a young doctor as “schizophrenic,” delivering babies, caring for preemies, and performing abortions all on the same hospital floor. After receiving new life in Christ, he joined the Pro-Life movement and was part of the first 40 Days for Life campaign.
The men were literally brought to their feet by the impassioned message of Helen Lowery, coordinator for Speak Life, a partnership program of MCRTL and The Way, Truth and Life Outreach. Helen shared her moving testimony, which began when her 13 year-old mother refused abortion and chose Life for her. At only 15, Helen also gave birth to her firstborn. Through Christ, Helen triumphed over grave circumstances, becoming a wife of 35 years and raising three children. In 2017, each of the children received degrees, one with a bachelor’s, one with a master’s, and one with a medical doctor’s degree! Helen is also an involved community leader, successful businesswoman, and an inspirational speaker. Her story destroys the fallacy that an impoverished child will be a burden on society and should be aborted. What hope and exhortation she held out to these men to value and protect all Life and step into God’s purpose for them!
Finally, Joe Bradshaw, the inmate Pro-Life leader within Wynne, rallied the men to commit to the sanctity of Life and to prayer during the upcoming 40 Days fall campaign which begins September 25. Teresa Strack, Director of MCRTL, closed the service with heartfelt thanks to the men for their outpouring of prayer support and an exhortation to uphold their vital role as protectors of children, women, and the vulnerable.
But of all these voices, undeniably the most powerful came from the inmates themselves. As visitors to the prison chapel service, MCRTL members were seated on the stage to the left of the 10-man chapel band. From this vantage point, we looked out over the packed congregation of inmates, clad in all-white prison uniforms, dancing, beaming, lifting hands high, lifting voices higher singing, “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, great and mighty is He…” It was a beautiful glimpse of the long-awaited day when we stand together before the Throne of Heaven, robed in white and worshiping as one.
This experience was a glorious reminder that against the tragic backdrop of millions of murdered babies, the light of Christ still shines. It falls upon each of us – for we each have a responsibility for what we have allowed in our midst.
Through this prayer partnership, the light of Christ radiates in what many consider a very dark place. There, in the TDCJ prison system, we now have year-round partners in prayer, and during the fall 40 Days for Life campaign, many very special prayer warriors will be faithfully standing vigil throughout the night.
We encourage YOU to join us and these men in prayer to end abortion during the 40 Days for Life fall campaign. Complete details are available at www.40daysforlife.com/spring.
May God pour out blessings on each of these brothers!
*Featured image of Wynne Prison Unit courtesy of TDCJ