What Happened in Cell Block One A
Recently, a light shown in Cell Block One A of the Wynne Unit, the Huntsville campus of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It wasn't the light of a Warden's flashlight. It wasn't a searchlight. It was a spiritual light as 6 prisoners started prayer walking the cell block. They weren't allowed to physically prayer walk the area, but from their own cells they began praying. "They told me they are praying and looking for 'the person of peace'," said Sally Hinzie, a UBA Church Consultant, and one of a group of mentors who travel weekly to the Wynne Unit to disciple new believers.
Some say that Cell Block One A is "the darkest cell block in the prison," explaining that it is not Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) where the most violent and dangerous offenders are held, but it is "right next to it!" Most of the men incarcerated in Cell Block One A dream of getting out of there. While they might dream of being released on parole, for many that is unlikely or impossible. Most of the residents of Cell Block One A would be excited just to be moved to an area of the prison where they have more freedom and some simple privileges that make life easier. Yet, six men, all of whom had been residents of Cell Block One A and who had achieved the dream of leaving it behind them, made the unusual request that the Warden transfer them back to that cell block where the light of Christ is so desperately needed.
Two of these six men have been participating in the Wynne Unit School for Church Planters. Each week, they meet with mentors such as UBA Church Consultants Rickie Bradshaw and Sally Hinzie who travel to Huntsville paired with other volunteer members of the mentor team, Guy Caskey, Bobby Herring, Parris Patrick, and Jerry Phillips. Two volunteer mentors teach each week, one teaching in the Trustee Camp while the other goes "inside the walls." (Read the story of how Covenant Fellowship, pastor, David Valentine, began this ministry inside the walls.)
"Derick" used his influence to lead five fellow-Christians and former residents of Cell Block One A to return to the cell block and share the light of Christ.
When meeting with one of the mentors after the first week back in Cell Block One A, Derick shared that the men in Cell Block One A have begun to ask to speak to the six of them. As the prisoners asked Derick and the others why they would want to transfer back into the cell block, Derick reported that they told the guys they loved them and wanted to share the good news of Jesus with them.
Upon hearing this, one of the inmates began to weep, leaning his head on Derick's shoulder. Four others gave their life to Christ during the first week, and Derick and the others are committed to discipling these new believers using the tools that they have learned in the Wynne Unit School for Church Planters.
Pray for these men who have journeyed from darkness into light and who continue to bear witness to the Light in a very dark and dangerous place.
". . . and the light shone in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it."
As of this writing, 'Derick' [C.A.], has been released, is rebuilding his life, and continues to be deeply involved in sharing the light of Christ with inmates who remain in the Criminal Justice System.