News Releases 2008

LETU Students Go to Prison--For the Weekend

Wed, Nov 12 2008

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.”—Matthew 26:36b
LeTourneau University students are going to prison Thursday, but they won’t be alone. A busload of about 40 students, including nearly the entire LETU YellowJackets basketball team, will join Bill Glass Champions for Life Ministries in an outreach of more than 1,100 Christians this weekend. They will share their faith with inmates at facilities around the Dallas metroplex. Members of First Baptist Church of Longview are participating, as well.
LETU students will carry casual clothing and a bedroll for sleeping two nights on a church gymnasium floor at Oak Cliff Bible Church. A mandatory team training meeting Thursday evening will be followed by a worship time before the students begin Friday morning the first of two days of sharing their faith in two state jail facilities. 
“It’s pretty intimidating to hear that metal door clanging shut behind you,” said LETU Chaplain Harold Carl, who has attended one of these events in the past and helped to promote LETU’s participation this weekend. “Sharing your faith can be scary. And prison is a scary place. But through this kind of shared adversity experience, students can learn that sharing our faith is not such a scary thing. We all can witness, as Christians, about how the Gospel of Christ has changed our lives.”
The men from LETU will visit the John R. Lindsey state jail facility in Jacksboro, Texas, west of Fort Worth, which accommodates over 1,030 male inmates in a medium security setting. LETU YellowJackets plan to play basketball with some of the inmates on Saturday.
Ten women LETU students will witness to female inmates at the Jesse R. Dawson State Facility in Dallas, which accommodates over 2,200 inmates, separated by gender.
The students and church members will serve as “team members” to talk with inmates in small group and one-on-one settings throughout the days on Friday and Saturday, Chaplain Carl said. 
“Many inmates have made decisions to become Christians following these kinds of events,” Carl said. “I have no idea what the Lord’s going to do.”
The students will return Saturday night.
Bill Glass, 73, founded the prison ministry. The former National Football League defensive end played 11 seasons in the NFL, first for the Detroit Lions, then for the Cleveland Browns until his retirement in 1969. Glass was part of the Browns team that won the NFL World Championship against the Baltimore Colts the year before the first Super Bowl. Working with his lifelong friend, Bill Bright, Glass helped to establish the Campus Crusade for Christ chapter at Baylor University, where Glass had been an All American athlete.
In founding the ministry in 1969 as the Bill Glass Evangelical Association, but which later changed names to Champions for Life, Glass invited other professional athletes to join him in visiting prisons. He discovered that only about 10 or 15 percent of the inmates would attend chapel services, but many more would come hear the athletes talk about sports, then share their faith. Today, his platform guests include professional athletes, musicians and entertainers, and his events are held at prisons all over the country.