Power of Prayer: Building A Church On The Power Of Prayer - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

11/21/04-Winnsboro

Power of Prayer: Building A Church On The Power Of Prayer

A steeple rising in the sky above the East Texas town of Winnsboro is not unusual, except when that steeple is surrounded by chain link and razor wire.

The Clyde M. Johnston unit, located on Winnsboro's outskirts, is a prison designed for drug and substance abusers.

"God has been in this project ever since it started," says building committee chairman, Dayne Redding, "He had to teach us some patience along the way. But God has really been in it and showed us some things. And you know if God is in it works and so it finally came out as a good thing."

Eight years ago Redding, along with several other Winnsboro leaders, felt God's call to build a chapel at the Johnston unit. Initially, the state told the group if it would raise fifty thousand dollars they would provide the rest of the money, but that would never happen.

"When we told them we had it (fifty thousand dollars) and (were told) the funds were no longer available the committee came together. We were sad, we were somber and we prayed and we said we will go forward. And it is an answer to prayer," says prison counselor Rev. Susan Price.

"We just made this a concentrated effort to ask God to do something only He could do. And He broke through red tape. He delivered, we raised more money in the last two years of this project than we did the first six years it was a vision. So that was pretty incredible. He did only what He could do," says Pine Stree Baptist Church Minister Dub Brown.

In the past two years, the community of Winnsboro went from raising fifty thousand dollars in seed money to nearly 300 thousand dollars to fund the entire project.

"We're just a determined group of people," says former committee chairman Dan Hubble, "and God just impressed us all that this was a need, it was a mission field here and He wanted it here so we were just determined to do that."

The men who come to this unit know very well this is a place of second chances. It is a penitentiary, but nothing like a maximum security unit. For them and the people of this community the chapel that now stands above the lines of fence and wire serves as a reminder of hope and answer to prayer.

"A lot of things that go on in the church services," says 28 year old inmate Darius Ekhtiar, "it really brings out it's time for us to really reflect on what we have done and why we are here. And gives us time to think about how we want to change that."

"And my prayer," says Pastor Brown, "is Jesus Christ will touch lives in this place and men will go out and be the Godly dads, Godly husbands and fathers and they will be the Godly people in society that will make a difference."

"I've never really been the most holiest of people in my life," says 20 year old inmate Brandon Fossee, "but the kind surrounding and the baseline of this church has brought that out in me and to do that in the 5 1/2 months that i have been here is a very strong step in my life, I owe it a lot to the church being built."

"I believe this building," says Rev. Price, "itself, is a statement to the men that God is here with them even in the unit. It will give them hope."

Clint Yeatts Reporting.

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