Rawlins, Wyoming… “We have been trying to gain access to the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins for a number of years as part of the Adventist prison ministries. Eight to ten years as memory serves,” says Ted Williams, RMC coordinator of prison ministry.
Though working as a retired minister for Colorado’s Arkansas Valley and Lamar congregations, Ted is a passionate promoter of prison ministry. He has been engaged in this outreach in the Rocky Mountain Conference for 12 years.
“A Rawlins penitentiary inmate wrote many letters requesting a visit. Correspondence with the inmate begun a number of years ago and continues today. A litany of efforts brought us to stay in Rawlins for a week in early July 2019. We went to the prison asking for an appointment to meet with the chaplain there,” Ted shares what is a fascinating story of how God opens closed doors.
Several days latter he went to the prison for the appointment. “The conversation was cordial. Previously filed application forms were completed again, and we attended the required training with our first service held in that prison on September 21,2019,” he adds.
The inmate who wrote numerous letters was overjoyed. Several of his friends attended as well. Ted learned that a group of prisoners had been holding Sabbath services inside the prison on their own for several years. The original worship service time was granted for a monthly 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Sabbath morning. There was no other time available and that slot of time was rather inconvenient for the Lorell and Carol Harold, church members from the Rawlins Seventh-day Adventist Church, who have volunteered to hold services in the prison one Sabbath a month.
“We talked and prayed about the situation. Not long after I was at the prison and met the chaplain, he asked if a Saturday afternoon from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., would be acceptable for a service time, but no longer then meeting Saturday morning?”
“All I could say: WOW, what an answer to prayer,” Ted says.
The Wyoming State Penitentiary (pictured) is a historic, current, and frequently visited by tourists prison in Rawlins, Carbon County, Wyoming. It has operated from 1901, but was moved within Rawlins to a new location in 1981. In 2018, it is a Wyoming Department of Corrections state maximum-security prison for men.
There are two separate sections in the prison. The Adventist service is presently held in one section. Recently, the chaplain asked if the church would be willing to hold one more service in the other section. The details of that arrangement have just been satisfactorily concluded with coordinated meeting time schedules allowing for services in the two sections being conducted back to back on the same Sabbath.
“Now what we really need are more volunteers. We continue our prayers,” Ted Williams says, and asks church members elsewhere to join in prayer for more volunteers.
“Before we began services we supplied Adventist books for their library to allow the inmates access to materials in English and in Spanish. Among them are, Conflict of the Ages series, and additional multiple copies of Desire of Ages, Christ Object Lessons, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, Ministry of Healing andSteps to Christ.
Ted Williams is fully convinced that “God has opened these prison doors in His own time. It is exciting to observe and participate in His provision.” He adds, “should church members and ministers inclined to be involved locally or from a distance we need all the prayer you can commit. If in your prayer time it seems clear to you that you would like to experience more involvement there are many opportunities available.”
—Ted Williams; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski