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Terrell Prison Graduation (May 31, 2024)

Cathy and I had the privilege of participating in the graduation of The Urban Ministry Institute at Terrell Prison near Houston.  These seven men (and one woman who came in from outside), began the 16-module, four-year seminary program in 2017.  They were making good progress until COVID, which caused them to take seven years to finish.


We first met them in 2018, shortly after moving to Dallas. Their instructor (our friend Charles Anderson) invited us to surprise the students, and also to pull a prank on them. He gave them a copy of my book “Think Again” and offered extra credit if they submitted a written book review, without disclosing the author would be in attendance to hear their comments.


We were delighted to hear their candid and positive opinions about the book because it was a bright spot during some hard times for us.  One person said he was so encouraged by Think Again that he stayed up all night reading it.  At the end Charles revealed to them that I was the author, which was met with cheers and exclamations like, “Oh I wish I had known!”


As she always does, Cathy had a great word of exhortation for men. When I shared that I was struggling with doubt about my ability to communicate, they said, “Brother, keep writing.  We need to hear from you.” Then they surrounded us to pray and Charles declared that he could foresee us writing a book that would be very helpful for the incarcerated.  It was from this prayer that we wrote “Climbing Up,” which has blessed hundreds of people across America.


Last year we visited this group again and left with fresh wind in our sails.  So we were especially honored to be asked to speak at their graduation this year.  After the ceremony, food was brought in for the graduates and current TUMI students. As we chatted during the meal, one of the graduates (Davis), said, “Every time you and Cathy come, her smile lights up the room.  We have a lot of volunteers come through and we always appreciate them, but when you and Cathy come, it’s different.  We know you believe in us.”


Thank you for praying for us so we can encourage our co-laborers inside the walls.  It is an honor to serve with them for the Kingdom of God.

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