By Bill Behr

Every Sunday night, the team from Summit’s 33rd Street campus has the privilege of spending time in Orange County Jail with the male inmates from the Horizon 4D dorm.

We lead  these men in worship and song, and their lively singing and praise would lift anyone’s heart!  Every Tuesday night, we also lead them through Summit’s reGROUP curriculum, which helps them discover how God can restore their hurts, habits and hang-ups.  Together, these services have given us the opportunity to personally get to know many of the inmates and encourage them to follow Christ.

I am very proud of our team that serves the men in 33rd.  We made sure each volunteer was able to make a one-year commitment to serve the inmates and go through Dignity Serves training to better understand how God wants us to build dignified, interdependent relationships with those that we are serving.

We were very blessed a few weeks ago, when Good News Jail Ministries (the ministry we partner with that serves them men in Horizon 4D) and the Orange County Jail agreed to let us move the worship service to the early afternoon instead of 7 p.m., so that our worship service would not interfere with the Super Bowl game that night.

What was more amazing is that they agreed to let some of our team come back to the dorm that night to minister to the men and watch the first half of the Super Bowl game with them.   We were really getting to know some of these men, so we were very excited to be able to go back and hang out with them.

Just a week earlier, Rene Vazquez, our campus minister for the 33rd Street campus, spoke to us at Horizon 4D about how Christ taught us to humbly serve each other out of love, by giving and receiving. That lesson was remembered.  When we came back that night, we were greeted by a group of men who were becoming our friends.  They told us that they were honored that we left our family and friends to be with them that night, so they wanted to serve us.  They arranged special seating for us to watch the game and used what little money they had to buy some snack food from their commissary for us.

Kyle Cox, Marco Randazzo and Scott Pausal, who all lead Summit’s worship band at 33rd Street, remembered Rene’s teaching and realized that, by accepting the snack food from them instead of refusing it, they were honoring our friends. By accepting their gifts, they validated the dignity in them that God has given us all.  You should have seen the joy in the faces of our friends as we sat together and shared genuine fellowship!

The men at the jail were following Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2:3-5, which says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

We are thankful to God for helping us recognize the great dignity we each have. We continue to pray that God will encourage us to keep reaching out, taking time, and sharing genuine fellowship with our neighbors – including those we might otherwise look down upon

Bill Behr

Bill Behr is the Associate Campus Minister of Summit @ 33rd St. and can be reached at bbehr@summitconnect.org.

Consider signing up for Dignity Serves, a six-week course that helps you rethink the way we serve others in our community. It teaches you to see problems differently and respond in a way that empowers those you serve rather than just meeting their immediate needs.