In 2007, I was appointed to work with Prison Fellowship’s Clef Irby to launch a pilot project in Southern California prisons that could be rolled out nationally. We met several times for lunch at the Anaheim Embassy Suites restaurant, then worked for hours in the lobby to overcome the many complexities that emerged. At several points the partnership seemed impossible. But we persevered, believing God would raise up the next generation of leaders from prisons.
Our next challenge was to find a chaplain to join us in this experiment. Clef selected Chaplain Warrick of CRC-Norco. As we ate lunch at the Norco Sizzler, he listened politely, and after what seemed like a long time of hesitation, he said, “Yes, let’s do this.”
Months later, I visited this group of men and was flabbergasted, and thought to myself, “this is going to work. In 2011, graduation day arrived and as each man rose in his cap and gown to speak, their intensity, intelligence, and maturity came through like a spotlight in the darkness. In attendance that day was Wayne Hughes, a donor for both Prison Fellowship and World Impact. He was so impacted by what he experienced and said, “I want to duplicate what I saw in every prison in California. Come up with a proposal and present it to me next month.”
Wayne not only committed to the funding, but ended up starting a foundation called “Serving USA” and hired Clef to oversee the work. At World Impact, Cathy was re-assigned from Human Resources to be the Incarceration Ministries Specialist nationally. Under her care, the prison sites grew from 7 to 70, in 12 states and became the foundation of our vision to launch Completion Global.
Daniel Mackey, the key graduate from that original Norco class, is helping us build a network of opportunities in Southern California. And just today we had an exciting videoconference with Burl Cain, who launched the famous revival in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. We started conversation with he and his leaders at Global Prison Seminaries Foundation about connecting their graduates with opportunities on the outside. We are advancing at a rapid clip! And it all began with the courage and foresight of Chaplain Warrick that day in the Norco Sizzler.