Angola 2012

Angola, Louisiana

Dates:  May 17 - 20
Ministry Partner:  AWANA Lifeline
Ministry Focus:  Ministry to inmates and their families at Angola Federal Penitentiary

We will once again return to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola with our team supporting and helping to run a family event inside the prison walls. This outreach event will unite inmates with their children for a day of fun, Bible teaching and evangelism.

Updated Tuesday, May 29
Team Member Recaps
As a little more than a week has gone by since the Returning Hearts Celebration at Angola, not a day has passed where we haven't thought about what a powerful weekend this was for everyone involved. The numbers are as follows: 608 kids, 272 inmate dads, 501 volunteers from 26 states representing 156 local churches, and 175 guardians had an incredibly powerful day at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on May 19, 2012. Continue reading for excerpts of stories from the team members.

Mike Broyles - "One of my personal highlights was visiting an inmate friend on Death Row at Angola. I had been praying for two years to re-visit him. The angels of the Lord opened the doors to allow me to visit my friend. Praise the Lord. The guard gave me two minutes with my friend. In my previous visits to him, he would show me an old, beat up used Bible and I wanted to give him one of the best study Bibles. [My friend] was warm toward me and was overjoyed with his new Bible. He looked me square in the eyes and asked, “Why do you care about me? Why did you come all this way from California to pray for me and give me this study Bible?” I explained that he was of value to Christ, he was made in the image of God, thus God cares for him and so do I. I also communicated that he forever touched my life in the powerful prayer that he prayed with Debbie and me a few years ago. At the end of our time, I prayed for him and he prayed the Lord’s Prayer, then he prayed personally for me and my family. What an honor to be ushered into the presence of God with my friend. The leader told me that he hardly gets visits or letters from anyone. They encouraged me to write to him and I will do that in the future weeks and months. He is not forgotten by Christ and I am grateful to have a small part in his life. Thanks to all of you for all of your prayers & support to allow me to be the voice of Christ to many men around America."

Phil Hess - "...I think the greatest lesson that I learned, though, was what it looks like when someone is truly and fully surrendered to the Lord.  Several of the inmates demonstrated that commitment and devotion in our combined worship services in the prison chapel.  I was moved to tears when we sang some hymns and I witnessed their level of deep worship.  “Jesus, to hear Your voice on that day is all I’m living for” was totally true for them, because most of them are “lifers” in Angola and will only leave next-stop-heaven.  Going to a maximum security prison clear across the country to learn that lesson may seem absurd to some, but to me it’s what means the most – I want to be completely “sold out” to Jesus the way these dear brothers-in-Christ modeled for me. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to experience the full range of impact that the Returning Hearts Celebration had on countless lives, because of how much it means to God for us to be ultimately “returned” to Him."

Rudy Hawkins - "During the games I had the "operate-on-the-frog" game. A beautiful little girl came with her dad to play. She said it was her birthday today. She was 6 years old. She tried to get a bone out of the frog without lighting him up with the metal tweezers. Her dad said, 'Let me try, I'll give you my share.' As he went to work operating on the frog she looked up at me brimming with delight and said, 'He's doin' this for me.' She glanced back at her dad for a moment, then looked at me again overflowing with of pride and said, 'That's my daddy.'... [Their family assistant] replied, 'You know what I just love? Everywhere we go people keep on telling her what a good man her dad is, how much they appreciate him and how much good he has done for these guys! I just think it's so great that she keeps on hearing that.'"

Michaelene Lourenco - "Malachi Dads seeks to stop the cycle of the sins of the fathers, recidivism, and create a generational bond which takes time. It is not necessarily immediate. Wayne just started this new bond with his daughter. I went over to them at lunch and said to his daughter, "your dad is a great man of God." I had walked into chapel to hear him singing, "Jesus, I just want to hear you say well done," a song he wrote. It brought tears to my eyes. I told her this great talent could be hereditary. She said she loves to sing too."

Cathy Proctor - "...We had dinner with Warden Burl Cain along with several other AWANA volunteers and some inmates after the RHC celebration. We had a particular inmate join us at our table. He is a respected leader at the prison. He spent the day with his 10 year old daughter. One thing he was sharing with us is how his heart attitude was changed by watching other inmates interact with their own kids. The inmates are not always "buddy buddy!" So the fact that this precious day can change the heart of an inmate and cause him to look at another fellow inmate in a different light is quite honestly, only from the Lord God!"

Ron Proctor - "...A highlight for me was when one of the 3 kids that I was with laid his head on my shoulder.  I am thankful that I connected with that family as an assistant. I hope the family was encouraged as much as I was as we all came together to make this special day of reuniting kids and their dads happen.  I was thrilled and in awe of the fact that the inmates were greeting us, engaging in conversation, thanking us for coming and serving us meals.  At no time did I feel like I was inside a prison.  The Malachi Dads are extremely hospitable and very inspiring.  I can't wait for next year!"

Cyndi Raville - "I have visited four men’s prisons in California (due to family circumstances, and five including Pitchess in Castaic).  The contrasts between them and Angola are too many to list. Some significant ones: chapels exist in most of the camps, available to the inmates complete with inmate praise bands. Inmates are encouraged to read and study God’s Word. Everyone at Angola works...numerous job opportunities are available. Programs are made available to the inmates to teach them to be better men, better dads, regardless of their physical location in Angola. Reconciliation with family is encouraged as part of the culture. After their graduation ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of inmates directly.  The peace in their souls, though many of them are in Angola for life, was unmistakable.

Saturday...I was assigned to the volunteer relief team, which allowed me to roam from family to family all day temporarily relieving the family assistants for various reasons. This assignment also allowed me to leave the Celebration early with Mike Broyles, to drive to a chapel where the children’s guardians were gathered for the day. Recently at Grace, I spoke to the guardians of the children during the Returning Hearts Celebration, and I had the opportunity through the encouragement of God’s people to do the same again in Angola.  My family story isn’t much different from theirs, but perhaps the relationship that brings guidance, comfort, wisdom and strength for life; my relationship with Christ and the hope that He gives me for life.  My prayer, is that my words encouraged the audience to always seek God, regardless of their circumstances!"

Joanne Hawkins - "Meeting and chatting with the 2012 Malachi Dad graduates was a joy for me. These men come off a waiting list to spend a year of weekly Bible study, memorization, exhortation and encouragement and mentoring toward the role of being a faithful dad and a godly man. The graduation ceremony is a triumph to behold. Rudy and I congratulated graduate J---L--- and immediately made a friend. He beamed when we asked him how he was different for having gone through the Malachi Dad program? We hung on his words as he described his identity and priorities. We posed a question to him and he responded with a question, 'what is one's definition of a man?' He said that a man should be seen through his role as prophet, priest and king (in his family). As prophet he is a teacher and exhorter. As the priest he is the spiritual leader, guide and intercessor. As king he is a man of responsibility, integrity and a protector. Then with all his heart he recited the Malachi Dad Pledge. We were spellbound as he closed with, 'so help me God.' Our new friend and brother is praying for us and...We are praying for him that the Lord will restore his relationship with his 11 year old daughter. He wants to be her Malachi Dad."

Updated Sunday, May 20
The Angola Team arrived home safely. They had a fantastic weekend of ministry among inmates and their families at Angola State Penitentiary. Check back to this page later to get more summaries from the team as they recap their time at Angola.

Updated Friday, May 18
Email from Mike Broyles
I am at Angola State Prison as you read this note. This Saturday (May 19) we are helping with Returning Hears Celebration here at Angola.

I am leading a team of 11 folks from my home church (Grace Baptist Church) here as part of our Summer Missions Outreach.  There will be 300 inmate dads, 600 children and 500 volunteers from 25 states serving and  loving these men and their kids.

There will be a lot of tears, hugs, food and fun, but please be praying for these inmate dads to being seeking forgiveness and hope with their kids. Only trust can truly heal these families.

Angola is a great place of spiritual hope and change. There are 5,200 men  here at Angola serving an average of 93 years with around 2,500 Christ-following inmates. This is one of the great spiritual awakening in these United States! Thank you for your prayers for Returning Hearts Celebration and for all of the prison ministries going on in our jails this week.

Updated Thursday afternoon, May 17
Mike Broyles called to say the team has landed safely in New Orleans. Stay tuned for more news!

Updated Thursday, May 17
We gathered early this morning to pray the Angola Team off the hill. Their hearts are full anticipating the Lord's work in Angola these next few days; keep them in prayer as they purpose to love those who many deem unlovable. As Pastor Mike reminded the team this morning, this is when we look most like Christ.