Fourth Baptist Church regularly features missionary speakers on Wednesday evenings. Last night we heard Jeff Freeman, a recent graduate of Central Seminary. Jeff isn’t a missionary in the usual sense. He is chaplain at the Hennepin County Correctional Facility–called the Work House by those who live there. He spent most of an hour telling us what it is like to minister to prisoners and staff in a correctional institution.
As we listened, I found myself thinking that Jeff is doing exactly what we want our graduates to do. He is taking to gospel to people who need it, leading them to faith in Christ, and then discipling them toward a level of maturity. And he is doing it effectively.
Jeff was always one of the quiet students in class, but he is not shy in front of an audience. He spoke with clarity and conviction, using his dry sense of humor to carry us with him through the description of a ministry that can be grim at times. And Jeff is certainly bold in the work that God has given him.
The Work House is only a few miles from the campus of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff is suggesting an internship for seminary students who want to learn to minister in correctional institutions. I think it’s a great idea. A pastor or missionary ought to know the techniques and procedures for ministering in jails and prisons. Whether we ever offer this as a formal internship, Central Seminary has a graduate who would love to mentor any seminary student in what we used to call “jail ministry.”