“Please let it continue,” was the message that Nino Esparza told the Nelson Memorial Methodist Church during their September 17 Sunday service.
Esparza, who is getting ready to enter back into the world after being incarcerated, was talking about the CSP Program that is sponsored by six area churches. This program assists inmates as they prepare to integrate back into life once released.
For 23 years, this program has helped countless people, who needed a positive influence in their lives. With a success rate much higher than the state average of 70 percent, facilitators of the program are elated the program continues to help people stay on a firmer foundation than before. Furthermore, the inmates learn about responsibility and helping community during a week-long project that has become a necessity for those who made certain wrong decisions in life. There is hope...and that is what they learn.
Boonville resident Tom Maxwell started the ministry 23 years ago. During those years, more and more people have come to help him continue this dream. Both Jack Bell and David Wrenn have contributed years in helping build the vision in helping the lives of those who have gotten in trouble.
Wrenn and Bell both admit that for many, it was the former influences that contributed to the poor judgment of many of these individuals that ultimately ended with their incarceration. But, as Christians, they (the facilitators) try to live out the Bible as best they can.
“This is Christ-centered work and we realize that is it through the transforming power of Jesus Christ...we’re all the same at the foot of the cross,” Wrenn said.
Each year Maxwell picks what projects are undertaken. He sees what is needed and works with officials to get it done. This year, the caboose and a Habitat for Humanity home were picked for the work. This is the third time the caboose near the Katy Depot has seen a fresh coat of paint by the inmates of the correctional facility. Wrenn also added that the project was also made possible by Glen Gross of the correctional facility who helped oversee the work.
Bell said the vision continues its focus on the inmates and helping them as they enter into a new life.
“There are always plenty of projects,” Bell said.
He added that they love to see the sense of accomplishment in the inmates when they complete a project. In addition, these individuals realize there are people out there that do care about them.
“They realize that when they do enter back into the world, it is these folks they need to seek,” Wrenn said in talking about those who help the inmates back on their feet versus the people that helped them get in trouble in the first place. “That’s always the big test. They have a lot of challenges when they get out such as transportation from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’
When all involved with the CSP Program hear about the success, they know that it is worth it.
Churches that have participated in the program include Open Praise Center, First Baptist, Four Square Firm Foundation, First Christian and River of Life Churches.
“Many of the volunteers from these churches get to tell their testimony to these inmates as well,” Bell said. “An inmate came up to me on the last day and thanked us for what we did for them. I told him that, I want to thank him for what he did for our group because it affects the people there, the same as it does for him.”
Wrenn said this will have lasting effects for all involved, including the 10 individuals from the correctional facility.
Wrenn also thanked Dave Miller who helped get the program underway in the beginning the correctional side involvement and all those who have continued to help bring a successful life-changing ministry to those who needed it.
Frankie Graham, Bill Parker and Dan Faust were chairs of this year’s project.