We were blessed to receive a letter from both a volunteer and inmate for the same event. The October 16, 2010 Basketball at Darrington Unit.
The first letter is from Chad Chambers, a CHARM volunteer...
Romans 12:1 states, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” These are the words Malcolm Marshall turned to as he called the men gathered in the Chapel at Darrington Unit to give their lives to completely to Christ – to follow whole-heartedly the gospel of Christ no matter their individual circumstances. Yet, it was more than simply a message to the men of Darrington, these words encapsulate a day enveloped by the presence of God’s Spirit.
The morning started early. Each of the men gathered in the parking lot of Houston’s First Baptist Church before 7:00 am had chosen to spend this Saturday away from their families, their jobs, and their normal routines. But, a sense of anticipation, not obligation, could be felt as we chatted, stretched and drank coffee in the parking lot. The feeling continued as we made the drive out to the unit, never a dull journey for those riding with Dave, and went through the security checkpoints to enter the unit’s parking lot.
With all the gear collected and checked in with the guards, it was time to enter the prison unit. This is a very different experience for each of the men present. For myself, a relative new-comer to prison ministry, it is an anxious moment not being sure what awaits on the other side. And for others in the group, it is an anxious moment because they know all to well what awaits on the other side having spent weeks, months, and years calling this unit “home”. For each man, though the anxiousness is worth the reward of this day in Darrington.
After a walk through the unit, the men come to place where all can be comfortable, prisoner and volunteer alike – the basketball court. Waiting our arrival is a vocal and talented group of men and I am struck by the reception. It is not an awkward moment of introduction, instead it resembles a reunion of old friends. Dave and other long-time volunteers immediately begin calling out names and responding to those calling out to them. Soon the ball is tipped and the games are on (not the best day for CHARM as far as wins and losses), but it is the camaraderie that I notice. I cannot help to think that these are the moments we have come for. These men know each other, care for each other, and even though both teams want to win, this is not about basketball.
Following the basketball, the men move from the gym to the Chapel. The Spirit’s presence in the room is undeniable as Jarvis Moore and Malcolm Marshall share from the hearts and God’s Word the truths of the gospel. Each man, prisoner and volunteer, is reminded that whether we will walk out of the bars soon or not, real freedom can only be found in God’s grace and forgiveness offered through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
As I recall this day in Darrington, what I remember is the relationships. Men, brothers in Christ, presenting their bodies as living sacrifices in spiritual worship on the basketball court and in the Chapel – praising God for his mercy. Men, knowing each other by name and standing together in unison calling out to the One True God. For this reason, I long to return to Darrington because next time, though I am sure I will still be anxious, I have a friend waiting for me. Goldwater, my brother, I hope to see you again.
The 2nd Letter is from Shedrick Roberson, an inmate and brother at Darrington...
Grace be unto you (...and the Trickett Family), and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Forgive me; the delay of this much anticipated letter. However, as you are much aware, serving in the Lord's Ministry here at the Darrington Unit under the leadership of Pastor/Chaplain/Man of God/Spiritual Father/Mentor/Friend and Coach - Donald R. Lacy, is a day-to-day grind of - Endless Joy! Literally. Chaplain Lacy's God inspired "Dare to Dream, Again" vision for Darrington continues to prepare our (...men of Darrington) hearts as fertile ground for the knowledge and presence of Jesus Christ. For there is only one thing that separates us from the love of God - sin; but there is the "Only One" that reconciles us to God's love - Jesus!
Big Ups - In His Name - to C.H.A.R.M. for honoring the Word of God by taking (actually bringing to us...) the message of reconciliation through it's sports event ministry. [2 Corinthians 5:17-21] What a blessed day, Saturday, October 16, 2010, replete with friendship, fun and fellowship in the Spirit of the Lord!
David, although we enjoyed the initial series of pickup ball here at Darrington, it was desperately obvious we had to go back to the drawing board and reconsider our on-the-court presence in an effort to compete with C.H.A.R.M. (Smile!) We'd previously received the third-degree (boos and ahs) for days, after C.H.A.R.M. came inside and took the 2-to-1 victory home.
Well, in spite of that horrible first four-minutes of play (so horrible in fact, it forced Chaplain Lacy out of retirement...) life on the inside, after attaining home court victory (2-to1), made re-entering population much more rewarding. Now we are held to a consistently high standard of competitiveness by our fellow residents and staff. Fortunate for us all, Jesus is - The Final Authority! Kudos to Coach Lacy!
Hey! The Men of Darrington express their gratefulness to God for C.H.A.R.M. Sports Event Ministry and its host of volunteers' commitment to fellowship. Praise the Lord, David, for sharing your obedience to the Lord through Bro. Jarvis Moore, who blessed us with his powerful testimony of dedication (study and prayer) and a mighty word of exhortation from the Book of Ephesians. Notwithstanding, Bro. Malcolm Pierre, aka "Excelsior", took us on a lyrical Christian hip-hop journey that rocked the Chapel of the Resurrection with cuts titled: "Sin", "Calling Out Names", etc., before delivering the final blow to the world from the Book of Romans 12:1-2, "...that ye (believers in Christ Jesus) present your bodies a living sacrifice... and be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The aspiring Christian hip-hop artists here at Darrington are polishing up their respective lyrics and crafting new beats now. Satan is on the run because the Name of Jesus is being exalted!
In closing, as the great Apostle Paul wrote from prison; "And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more... that ye may approve things that are excellent which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God." [Phil. 1:9-11] May God continue to bless thee (Ambassadors for Christ) and keep thee (Ministers of Reconciliation) - men/volunteers of C.H.A.R.M Sports Event Ministry.
All Champions for Christ,
Shedrick T. Roberson
P.S. Extend peace and blessing to My Brother in Christ, Mr. Melvin Adams!