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Stanley Horton
12.20.09

Wes Bartel
12.13.09

Jason Roy
11.29.09

Steve Donaldson
11.22.09

Norma Champion
11.15.09

Byron Klaus
10.25.09

Alton Garrison
10.18.09

Ed Stetzer
9.27.09

Aaron Boyd
9.20.09

Eric Treuil
9.13.09

Lynn Krogstad
8.30.09

Lew Shelton
8.23.09

Todd Starnes
8.16.09

Gary Smalley
8.9.09

Rick Cole and Dary Northrop
8.2.09

George O. Wood
7.26.09

Sarah Reeves
7.19.09

Mercy Me
7.12.09

Chuck Bengochea
7.5.09

Jeremy Camp
6.21.09

Kary Kingsland
6.7.09

Doug Clay
5.31.09

Owen C. Carr
5.24.09

James T. Bradford
5.17.09

Marlo Schalesky
5.10.09

Wally Nelson
4.26.09

Leeland and Jack Mooring
4.19.09

Mark Trammell
4.12.09

Chris Sligh
3.29.09

Scott Krippayne
3.29.09

David and Marie Works
3.22.09

Paul Baloche
3.15.09

Ellie Kay
3.8.09

Deborah Burke
2.22.09

Max Lucado
2.15.09

Sy Rogers
2.8.09

Duke Preston
1.25.09

Kenny Luck
1.18.09

Todd Tiahrt
1.11.09


2008 Conversations


2007 Conversations


2006 Conversations


Conversation: Chaplain Wally Nelson

Joining a ministry team

Wally Nelson has been an Assemblies of God prison chaplain for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 14 years. He is now a regional chaplain, super-vising chaplaincy programs in the 22 units of the Central Texas region. Nelson recently spoke with Assistant Editor Jennifer McClure.

tpe: How can churches help released offenders re-enter society?

NELSON: Some people have a home to go back to or a community when they are released. But most of them came out of a very poor home environment to begin with. There are halfway houses, but regardless of where released offenders go, they’re going to need a job.

Businessmen in a church who want to have a ministry can make it known that they will hire ex-offenders. That doesn’t mean they hire everybody who comes along. You have to use discernment.

Churches can be aware of halfway houses in the area, be accepting and offer jobs or support. I would caution against giving handouts. That’s not the way you lead people to live productively.

tpe: How can the local church support prison chaplains?

NELSON: Chaplains can feel isolated from the church because our whole role is invested in the prison. One man alone may be in charge of 1,000 people. There are no churches that are run like that. So we get very isolated, and we don’t get to mix with other people as much as we would like outside our prison environment. Churches who are aware of that can just be supportive of the chaplain and the chaplain’s family and include them in the church activities.

tpe: What can volunteers do to help prison chaplains?

NELSON: Everything. Volunteers who work with individual chaplains will soon see many ways they can help. For example, volunteers in Texas, once cleared, can come into prisons and do church services, Bible studies or be counselors.

tpe: For those considering a volunteer ministry in the prison system, of what should they be aware?

NELSON: Working in prisons is a calling. Volunteers need to be consistent in what they do. They need to be spiritually and emotionally whole themselves. Some people want to come into a prison and minister because they have an emotional or spiritual need themselves. This is not the place to try to meet that need.

You have to be aware of spiritual warfare on an ongoing basis. But if you’re positive and recognize that greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4), you can go with confidence and see people set free.

tpe: What are the first steps to volunteering to help a prison chaplain?

NELSON: After discerning that this is God’s calling on their lives, prospective volunteers should talk to their pastor first. Then they should find out where there is a prison where they feel called to go, call that prison and ask for the chaplain. If the prison doesn’t have a chaplain, they can ask for the program director.

tpe: How does Christian literature like TPE benefit inmates?

NELSON: With a lot of time on their hands, many are looking for something to read. They pick up magazines, like Today’s Pentecostal Evangel, all of the time. The Pentecostal Evangel is unique in that it is a way for the Pentecostal message to be propagated in people’s lives even if they don’t have an opportunity to hear that truth publicly.

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

 

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