On Sept. 5, 52 inmates entered the gymnasium at the Nash Correctional Institute for the second convocation service of the North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP).
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, addresses the second convocation service of the North Carolina Field Minister Program Sept. 5.
The program started in August 2017 with partnerships between the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), Game Plan for Life and The College at Southeastern.
“This program is unique in the sense that it is both confessional and inclusive, inviting all men of faith to participate in an unapologetically Christian education program,” said Seth Bible, director of prison programs at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
Jesse, a sophomore in the program, gave testimony to how he had seen the Lord use the NCFMP in his life. He also admitted that it took courage to step out of his comfort zone and start the program.
“I was in a situation where I didn’t know if I wanted to leave because I was comfortable. Did I want to pursue what I knew God had called me to do?” he said.
Twenty-eight inmates are returning for their second year while 24 students are entering into their first year of the program.
Reuben Young, NCDPS Interim Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, spoke to attendees of the lifechanging work of the NCFMP, saying that it “changes lives of those behind the wall and beyond the fence.”
“I’m convinced that your efforts will continue to widen a path that has been dark for far too long,” said Young.
Joe Gibbs, founder of Game Plan for Life and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, gave testimony to how he became convinced of God’s existence.
He gained this assurance through creation, the Bible and God’s work in him and others.
Gibbs reminded inmates that God is one of “second chances,” and that “what we’re going to leave on this earth is the influence we’re having on others.”
SEBTS President Danny Akin focused his message on Hebrews 12:1-3 using the theme “Run Hard After God.” His encouragement to students was to not only start well but finish well in their studies and in life.
Akin gave three points in explaining how the passages teach us to run hard after God.
First, he told students to find encouragement as they run.
“There are brothers right alongside you that are in the race with you,” said Akin as he encouraged students to rely on one another.
Second, Akin explained that there are some essentials students need as they run this race, which includes laying aside every weight, laying aside sin and running with endurance.
“Whatever you have to do to get rid of anything that can slow you down in this very strategic time of your life, kick it to the curb, that you can run the race without those weights,” said Akin.
Third, he encouraged students to look to Jesus as the perfect example to follow because He is the author and finisher of their faith.
“As you study and as you serve, keep your eyes glued to Jesus,” said Akin. “He got you in the race, He’ll keep you in the race, and He will get you to the finish line.”
Two notable additions at the Nash Correctional Institution for this program are a library and a modular unit to host more classes.
The funding for the library is provided by the Keesee Foundation, and books will be purchased and housed in the current classroom at the Nash facility. The modular unit is funded through Game Plan for Life.
Certain requirements have to be met before inmates can be admitted to the NCFMP. An inmate must have at least 15 years remaining on his sentence, have a high school diploma equivalent or higher education and must be in good standing with the prison.
During a six-month process leading up to the beginning of fall classes, inmates in the Nash Correctional Institution have the opportunity to apply, provide references, meet for a face-to-face interview and complete a college preparedness exam. After this process has been completed, up to 30 men are chosen for admission. The goal is that a maximum of 30 students will be admitted each semester until capacity is reached with 120 students.
The goal of the NCFMP is not only to give men hope and purpose while serving out their sentences but also for them to use what they learn in the classroom to impact the culture within the greater prison system of North Carolina.
Upon completion of the Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry, graduates will be grouped into teams and assigned to various prisons in the state, where they can hold a range of positions. These can include providing counseling, mentoring new inmates, suicide watch and performing funerals.