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Long Creek Youth Corrections

Aug 21 2019

I have been doing chapel services at Portland, Maine's youth detention center at least twice a year since 1987. I have come in under the ministries of five chaplains, have been party of a 'good behavior' celebration on one of the units, and was once on a unit when suddenly it went into lock down.  So when a sixth chaplain was recently hired, it didn't bother me that there was a little delay getting back in, I was confident "I'd be back."  In fact, the new chaplain is an acquaintance, the dad of a couple former students. Sure enough when he settled into his job, I was back on the schedule.  But the chaplaincy wasn't the only change at Long Creek.

There has been some changes in the administration, and this led to a rather strange request. I needed to leave my rabbit and birds at home if I couldn't produce evidence of liability insurance. What if, after all, the rabbit went berserk and attacked a kid?  Nothing remotely like this happened in over 60 shows there, so it was due.  I explained to the new chaplain, who agreed it was overkill but was too New to rock this particular boat, that the real problem wasn't the rabbit but the birds. They could swoop down on a juvenile, grab him in their talons, lift them up and fly out of the chapel and over the prison walls having a jail break!

I had to remind myself that I was there to serve and not to push what I wanted. Although a couple of the long term inmates asked about the animals, I did the show without them and held their attention nonetheless.  I've been trying to bring my shows back to its 'roots' in a sense, making sure I blend entertainment and the Gospel with an emphasis on Bible accounts and less about theological points.  I did this by reintroducing the thief on the cross illusion/story, and it certainly seemed to resonate with them teens.

As always, there was time to interact with the kids after the service, and even juggled with one aspiring performer. But a few did mention wishing they could hold the rabbit.

Maybe next time.

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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  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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