WORKING TO CHANGE LIVES
RUInside California (RUInside CA) is a ministry preaching the Gospel of Christ, ministering to and assisting inmates, parolees, victims and their families during incarceration and times of transition.
How This Ministry Came About
Read the testimony of Ed, Coordinator of RUInside California.
September 1, 1994, at 6:15 pm was the time I was supposed to die, instead, by God’s incredible grace and mercy, I received life eternal.
September 1st was my third day in county jail, in Bridgeport, CA. As far as I was concerned, I had lost it all when I was arrested…my family, my career (which was everything to me- I was on the county paramedic squad and a fireman/engineer); there was just nothing left to live for. I had talked with my parents on the phone each night, but this night they had no idea that my intentions were to kill myself after talking with them; they had no idea that my “bye…I love you”, wasn’t just an “I’ll see/talk with ya later”—it was a “good bye…I’m leaving this world”.
Before we got off the phone, my Dad (inspired by the Holy Spirit I’m confident of) said to me, “Son, if you really want to know the truth, go back to your cell and read all of first John; if you are truly born again it will give you great peace, and if you are not, it will give you great conviction—if you are truly searching”. “Ok Dad,” I said, hung up the phone and started the short walk back to my cell, my intended self-execution chamber moments away.
My cell door opened electronically, I stepped in, and it shut. Sitting on the edge of my bunk, I was mentally preparing myself to draw my last breath when I looked next to me. There sat that old, gold Gideon Bible I picked up when they let me out for some free time a few days before. For the first time I looked at that Bible and in my heart, truly wanted to know what was truth and what was not. I picked up that Bible and turned to first John as my Dad had suggested. I read there how that if we walk in darkness, the truth could not be in us. Now I knew from school and church, that “truth” there meant Jesus Christ because He is the Truth and the Light. It was at that very moment that the Spirit pierced through the dark veil upon my heart and those words sunk in so deep—I’ll never forget it. That moment, rather than hanging myself and ending my life, I fell to my knees on that cold cement floor and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ; nothing has been the same since then.
He said that “from the womb, I have called you,” and I have known all my life that He has called me to preach and minister the Gospel of Christ—there has been no doubt in my heart and mind. A couple of months later, and after some spiritual feeding, growth and time alone with my Saviour, I again began to have that call knocking at me. I would try to put it out of my heart and mind, but it was right there and so ever present. I really didn’t understand why—I knew God couldn’t use me now…I was a criminal of the worst kind…how could He use me? I read where Paul said he was the “chief of sinners” and in my mind, I argued with Paul, “No Paul! I’m the chief of sinners!” I shared my struggles with my Mom & Dad and told them that I felt I was the “chief of sinners, ” and God couldn’t use me…why am I feeling this call in my heart again…this burning. Dad quickly reminded me, in his special way that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (God-breathed). Paul was a murderer of the worst sorts and “wasted the church”; but God used him to not only write most of the New Testament, but also the instructions, orders, and charges for the church and church officials. At that moment, I realized God could use me, and though incarcerated, I answered and surrendered to His call.
Through my time of incarceration, I continued to grow spiritually and academically. Dr. Roland Rasmussen took me under his wing and began to put me through my ordination studies. In my day to day, as I got to know other inmates and they would share their hearts, I would share with them God’s saving grace and what He did for me. I helped them down the trail and through the mine fields I had already come through, as I continued to grow and walk down my path.
In mid ’97, Dr. Rasmussen came to the institution and with witnesses, gave me a five-hour oral exam covering every area of doctrine and practice. On June 4, 1997, my ordination was brought before the board of deacons, and a unanimous vote was given. A short time later, it was presented to the church body for a vote, and again, a unanimous vote was cast.
Being in the institution and watching men come back, even ones I knew had genuinely received Christ and wanted a change; I began to see where some of the problems were. One, the Chaplains are not in the position to “Pastor” and shepherd effectively. Just because someone receives Christ as their Saviour, does not mean that they will not sin, it does not mean that they won’t fall, and if they do sin and fall, it does not mean they were not genuine in their acceptance of Christ and a real desire to change. Christ describes them in Corinthians as “new born babes desiring the sincere milk of the Word (Bible).” Babes need to be fed and nurtured, and I wholeheartedly believe that is the job of the local churches. Although, while most churches are “missions” minded, they overlook the domestic mission field in their very own back yard…the prisons. I began to see that one chaplain for four to five prison yards with a thousand plus men on every yard, could not fulfill this task and it is not his job to do so.
With that in mind, in 1997 Bethesda Family Ministries was birthed and later rebranded as Level Ground Ministries. I knew these men who we led to Christ inside needed to be nurtured and I began recruiting a fellow inmate who was spiritually strong, in each building to be an Ambassador for the ministry to help feed the men, be there for them and to be an accountability partner. They would sit down with the men in their building (one on one) and go through a basic four-part Bible study program that gave them the basics of what it was to be a Christian, what is sin, who is Christ, what is faith, what is prayer. While we spent four weeks going through these with them, they were being enrolled in a more comprehensive correspondence program with Rock of Ages Prison Ministries. This program worked very well for many years and some men we were able to partner with outside sponsors from the church where they were paroling to giving them a warm relationship coming out of prison and going to a church where they otherwise would know no one.
In the Summer of 2014, the Lord guided us to RU Recovery Ministries. We quickly learned that this was the missing ministry component we had desperately been looking for many years. After going to Rockford, Illinois for training, I became the local director for RU as a ministry of our church, Faith Baptist Tabernacle, North Highlands, CA. Since then we have completely brought our prison ministry under the umbrella and authority of Pastor Mike Rodgers and Faith Baptist Tabernacle. It is now the prison outreach component of our local RU chapter and subsequently named RUInside California (RUInside CA). We are very excited to see how the Lord will use this ministry outreach to impact the lives of many.
We desire to see the Gospel spread throughout the jails and prisons of California and throughout our community.
Ed & Jerilynn
What will it take for you to come to Christ? …that is the question I ask you today. The question I asked myself over 20 years ago…why did it take this for me to come to Christ?
I fell victim (and I use that term loosely) to what I call “2nd Generation Christian Syndrome”. Reared in a Christian environment almost 24-7 my whole life, all I knew was the Christian “walk & talk”; so when I prayed the “sinners prayer” (wherever that is in the Bible), I was already in the “groove”.
It took a life event, and many people I cared about being hurt, for me to recognize my sin-sick state. It took this event for me to realize, that though I “prayed a prayer”, I had never repented of my sin (an 180-degree turn of heart and mind from sin toward God). He says in his Word that “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”
September 1, 1994, at 6:15 pm I gave my life to Christ, repented and asked Him to become Lord and Master of my life. But the road did not get easier from there… I had eight years to spend in the “whales belly” while He prepared me for the ministry He had called me to.
So, I ask the question, what will it take for you to realize your need of the Saviour?
Dennis & Sharon
RUInside California Prison Ministry Team
The Prison Ministry team actively goes into California prisons to minister to the men and women at the prison chapels. They hold services and preach clear gospel messages to the inmates.
Every service, we are thrilled to see many inmates come to Christ. As you well know, there needs to be rooting and grounding through discipleship and mentoring. There is no way the prison chaplains can tend to this enormous task. Many men and women are needed to go into the prisons to hold regular Bible studies, counsel and mentor.
Wayne Croley, M.B.A.
RUInside California Support Staff
Wayne assists RUInside CA with its online presence, resource database, and its case management system. He has a master’s degree in business administration and seeks to utilize his God-given talents to help people.
RUInside California Support Staff
Karen assists the RUInside CA office in many ways by performing data entry, assisting with correspondence, and performing a variety of secretarial tasks. She has a great heart for this ministry and is a valuable member of our growing team.
Pastor of Faith Baptist Tabernacle
Pastor Mike Rodgers has led Faith Baptist Tabernacle in North Highlands, California since 1991. Pastor Rodgers is a major supporter RUInside California’s mission to help reconstruct lives through the power of Christ.
We collaborate with churches and ministries to bring the Gospel to inmates and to the community.
Help Us Make a Difference
RUInside California’s amazing volunteers and supporters are working to make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated. Will you join us as we work to transform lives with the Gospel, so jails and prisons release disciples of Jesus Christ instead of repeat offenders?