County Updates
Cuyahoga County     by Chaplain Jim Wilcox
June 23, 2016

On Saturday May 28, 2016 The Way Out Prison Ministry in partnership with the R.E.A.L. Men Fellowship of Mount Hermon Baptist Church held its annual “Community Health Fair”.

The Way Out volunteer Minister RL Jones a.k.a. “Butch” from Mount Hermon Baptist Church lead the charge.  The health fair is an outreach to the surrounding community offering free health screening for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sickle cell and HIV. 

Along with the health screening, there were free refreshments, hot dogs, face painting, a raffle, prizes and gift cards.  The outreach was a huge success, touching many lives in the community.  The heath providers were Metro Health, St. Vincent Medical Center, University Hospital, City of Cleveland Department of Health and several others.

As Butch would say “To God be the glory”.   

Portage Geauga Juvenile Detention Center     by Chaplain Claudia Kennedy

 October 2016

Submitted by Claudia Kennedy, Women’s Chaplain of The Way Out Prison Ministry

Several months ago a very sad young looking 14-year-old girl came to our weekly Bible study at the Portage Geauga Juvenile Detention Center.  I took a double take because her resemblance to my granddaughter Rachel age 11 was striking.  She came regularly to our Bible studies over the course of her incarceration. And in time, she was smiling and engaging with a sweet personality.  She was eventually released.  I will call her Carla.

Last night she was back!  But this time, she was totally broken.  Her hair was a mess, her face had sores, and her arms were covered with scratches from cutting.  She couldn’t stop crying.  After our singing and sharing from the Bible as a co-ed group, we broke down into small groups.  Since she was the only girl in attendance, I had the opportunity to sit down with her one on one.

Her story poured out immediately.  Carla had been released a few months ago from the detention center to rehab.  She told me that she did really well and was making progress.  She was happy.  But with one week to go in rehab, she ran away.

Then she told me through her tears that she doesn’t care about her life anymore.  She feels worthless and just isn’t able to break her addiction.  She has tried really hard, but it didn’t work.  She has given up. She has just been sleeping and not coming out of her cell. The encouraging thing is that she did come out last night.  I know that she is drawn to the only answer that can set her free!!

She went on to tell me that two years ago her Mom died of a heroin overdose.  She lives with her dad.  She began smoking weed at age 11, with help from her brother.  After her Mom died, she graduated to meth.    She told me that she never really grieved her Mom’s passing.

Her brother and a former boyfriend are also residents of the detention center.  It bothers her that the ex-boyfriend is someone that she has to see when the boys and girls are together.  He was in attendance last night at the Bible study and kept steeling concerned peeks at Carla.  I asked her when she last used Meth, and she said it was 2 days ago before she turned herself in. I assured Carla that God loves her and addiction is something we can’t fight by ourselves.  We have to have God’s help.  But mostly I just listened as she needed to talk. Our teams will have the opportunity to minister to Carla while she is incarcerated.  What an opportunity we have to point her to Jesus.

Carla just turned 15 a few days ago.   My heart is broken for her, and I promised to pray for her.  She needs love.  This is a young child who has been almost destroyed by wrong choices and her family living environment.  The night before, I was at The Geauga Safety Center holding a Bible study with 9 women.  Most of them have addictions.  I was sharing that the next night I would be ministering to teens of addicted parents.  I encouraged them to embrace Christ and when released to make their children their first priority so they don’t end up in a detention center. Little did I know that I would be facing the exact same scenario 24 hour later.

The Way Out Prison Ministry is reaching out to the neediest in our society.  We are going into the darkest places of men and women’s hearts with the glorious hope of life instead of death.  Freedom from bondage is not only possible, it is why we can’t help but share the good news of a new life in Christ!!  We need your prayers to have an openness to The Holy Spirit as we minister and for the receptivity of broken hearts ready to ask for help from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

June 23, 2016

UPDATE – Portage Geauga Juvenile Detention Center (PGJDC)

Different teams from The Way Out (TWO) minister at PGJDC every Thursday evening from 7:00-8:00 pm.  Each team of volunteers represents a local church.  As volunteers build relationships with the youth we pray they would attend one the churches represented by TWO. 

We begin each evening with worship and prayer.  One of the volunteers shares the message of the Gospel with the youth.  We then break up into small groups, girls and boys, for the last 15-20 minutes and have a rap time answering their questions about faith.

The teen’s bond quickly with the volunteers and the hour spent with them each week is very profitable.  TWO provides a Bible for each teen that attends our services. 


UPDATE – Geauga Safety Center – women

TWO has 4 volunteers who minister to 2 groups of ladies 2 times per month for 1 hour.  We have a time of worship followed by a bible lesson tailored for the needs of the women.  We are very well received and the ladies are open and hungry for the answers only the lord can provide.


May 12, 2016

As one of our team members was sharing the lesson about Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, one young fellow, Jimmy, raised his hand and asked if God could speak to him in the same way,so he would know for sure it was God speaking? In our answer this teenager realized that he knows about Jesus and knows the right words to say, but he desires to really know Christ on the inside. We witnessed the Holy Spirit’s work in a real and deep way in Jimmy’s heart tonight.

It is times like these that it is all worth it as we go into the juvenile detention center to share Christ!  Hallelujah!!
Stark County Jail      by Chaplain Tim Klink

June 23, 2016

God has truly blessed His work and Word at the Stark County Jail through the first half of 2016. We have seen approximately one third of the total inmate population actively working on the Bible study lessons we provide. The response letters from the inmates tell how God is drawing them to Himself for the first time or rekindling a relationship with Him that has been “misplaced” by the inmate.
Our chapel services and Bible studies are fully staffed with men and women who have a passion for presenting God’s unconditional love to those who feel most unworthy. Also, due to the generosity of a group of people our chapel library remains stocked with solid, Christian discipleship books as well as Bibles for those who request them. 
Several families are now in local Bible teaching churches and continue to grow and mature their faith after release.  Only our God can pull together such a ministry as what we are seeing at Stark and to Him goes all of the praise and glory!!


God’s blessings are abundant within the Chapel Services and Bible Studies as well as with the individual Bible Study Courses offered to each inmate. One thing all inmates have in common is boredom and would do almost anything to break the routine of “nothing”. They will play cards, watch TV, get into “rousing” conversations, or we can provide them with challenging Bible studies and allow God to get their attention and show them His great love for them…..and He does.
We are privileged to offer 13 chapel services and Bible studies per week for men and women throughout the facility. A great blessing are the volunteers who faithfully staff these services bringing the Word of God plainly and with great heart-felt enthusiasm. God is truly blessing the ministry at Stark County Jail.
This Christmas we distributed approximately 500 Gift Bags to the inmates that were incarcerated on Christmas Day. The contents included some “sweets”, a notepad, pencils and erasers, postage paid envelopes, and several books. Several churches raised the funds to provide this gift which helped the day be “not so lonely” away from families. The little children from Fellowship Baptist Church in Canton decorated the gift bags with Christmas greetings that were precious, and the small children at Grace Baptist Church in Canton produced Christmas Greeting Cards that were adorable. The bags were all packed at the Bag Packing Party held at Fellowship Baptist Church with several churches represented. Cookies and fellowship were abundant during this very special event of the year.
Summit County     by Chaplain Mark Matthews
June 24, 2016


The Way Out ministry serves the Residential Correctional Center (RCC), an Oriana house facility for incarcerated women in Summit County. RCC has approximately 65 women incarcerated in the facility. In the fall of 2016, TWO volunteer Diane Popovich began a weekly bible study. The bible study attendance has quickly grown from 2-4 woman a week to 12 women a week. As Chaplain for that facility I have witnessed a spiritual presence being constantly in this facility as the Bible study has grown. The facility has gone from being in the dark to have rays of God’s light permeate the building.

In May of this year Arlington Church of God (ACOG) further blessed RCC. Under the guidance of Chaplain Mark Matthews, ACOG started transporting the RCC women to their weekly Celebrate Recovery (CR) meetings. CR is a biblically based program for recovery from any of life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. In 6 short weeks the interest has blossomed and there are 25-30 women from RCC attending CR weekly. That is half of the women at RCC voluntarily attending a bible based meeting! The RCC women are now inviting family members and their significant others to attend the CR meeting.

Seeing the RCC women and their loved ones at the CR meetings is inspiring. Families connecting in God. Women being in the presence of other women who have been there. Their energy has provided new found enthusiasm for others who attend the CR meeting. The CR meetings not only give hope to the RCC women, but a plan of how to get to God’s grace and glory. For truly this entire transformation is God’s, and to Him we give the glory.

Why I Do Jail Ministry        by Chaplain Mark Matthews

Occasionally an inmate asks me, “Why am I a Jail Chaplain?”   My automatic answer is to go back to January of 2008 when I was incarcerated.  At that time I had no hope and could see nothing but darkness. But God found me in that moment and my life has never been the same. Ever since that time I have always felt the need to share the hope of Jesus Christ with others.

Eight years later I deliver the Good News to men in a room at the same jail that overlooks the cell I was locked in. Each day my resolve to share the hope of Christ grows deeper.  I feel a sense of obligation.  In Romans 10:13-16 Paul said,
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?”

People are drawn to jail and prison ministry for different reasons. The reason God called me to be a Jail Chaplain is to share the hope of Jesus Christ to those incarcerated men and women who have NO HOPE and are looking for a way out.  

                               Director of Ministry Update                              Inmate Letters