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Long Creek Youth Center

Mar 25 2017

One of the first fully Gospel shows I ever did was in 1987 at the then Maine Youth Center.  30 years later, this juvenile corrections facility has a new name- Long Creek- a new facility, and is on the fourth chaplain since that first gig last century.  But Ihave been going, sometimes with  my wife, Sue, and once with our oldest, Jona-Lynn the whole time.  We have done an average of two shows a year there without a break, and it never gets old.

My most recent trip to Long Creek was a couple Saturdays ago. Although I'm not a fan of getting up early on Saturdays (the service starts at 9:00 AM in Portland) upon arriving it is always worth the effort.  Chaplain Doug greeted me in the lobby a little before 8:00 with his usual smile and handshake.  After getting cleared by security, we brought my cart load of props to the chapel and the fun began.  

The residents began to arrive in time for a 9:00 sharp start.  I spoke briefly with a few of the early arrivers, then it was time to start.  I opened with a rabbit and doves production followed by my three ball juggling routine to Mahalia Jackson's "When the Saints Go Marching In."  After a little mind reading, I know I had them hooked.  There was one young guy, probably 15 years old or so, in the front row, who was enjoying it as much as anyone whose ever been to a show.  Once he blurted out, "That defies the laws of physics!" 

When the show was winding down I did something I don't do much any more; I ended with an invitation to accept Christ as Savior.  It just seemed like the right morning to do so.  Three kids,at least accepted the Lord that morning, and I know they are in good hands with Chaplian Doug.  

As we were leaving, one of the volunteers spoke with me.  He told me that the service was a turning point for him as well.  He said that the Holy Spirit showed him that, just like I was using my ability to serve God, he should also simply use what he already does to serve God instead of believing he needed some new thing before he could minister.  He told me he was a lobsterman, and he would be seeking God to see how he could use his strong work ethic to minister to the kids.  He wasn't sure exactly what that would look like, but he saw that a work ethic was not a natural gifting for a lot of incarcerated kids.  I told him I'd pray for this calling.  After all, it wouldn't be the first time the Lord called a fisherman.

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The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I just wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

"There's no questioning it. This is powerful stuff. It's extremely touching at times, never less than entertaining, and I see a lot of sincere love for Jesus in you guys."  -Dwight Lilies, song writer

The Lord has given you a wonderful window through which to present the Gospel!   - Field Director of Alliance Missions to Paraguay

"What a wonderful ministry to both children and adults.  In past years it has been a struggle to arrange programing that would hold the attention of all ages, but also challenge each heart with God's gift of Salvation.  Thank you for sharing your ministry."  -Sunday School Sup't.

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