From the Houston Zone
October 7, 2017
The Houston zone has seen significant growth in the past year. There are new prison volunteers (Scott Holman, Anita Jones Baker and Charles McKeowan who join Tina Huston, Carlos Machado and Jeff Tinkham) new prison units being visited and more inmates being served than ever before. Over one hundred inmates in the Houston area are receiving and studying the weekly My Bible Lesson. Some of them are also receiving periodicals and other Christian Science books. This group, for us, really represents a new congregation in our community. While some may be disappointed that churches have closed the past few years, it is clear from our work that new ones are appearing. The new Houston Committee Chairman is Anita Jones Baker who is both corresponding and now serving in the prison ministry.
Volunteers in the Houston zone have corresponded with over 50 inmates in and outside of Houston. Many of those men or women had Christian Science shared with them and they are now looking for their own copy of Science and Health or want to receive My Bible Lesson. This demonstrates the common objective of all the volunteers in instilling the Christian idea of sharing what one receives with others. Our church Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, repeated Christ Jesus’ call to “preach the gospel,’ to which command was added the promise that his students should cast out evils and heal the sick.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p 342:8-12) We volunteers can only have contact with so many but the men and women we visit can multiply this sharing many times over.
During the past year, weekly and monthly services were held at the Ramsay, Estelle, Huntsville and Wynne Units. We still need more volunteers to reach other units, including the Stiles unit in Beaumont, and to have more weekly services where only monthly services are currently happening. The Estelle Unit at Huntsville has five guys who are interested in becoming members of The Mother Church. This is a result of their recent study of The Manual with Tina Huston. During the past year, four men from the Harris County jail became members of The Mother Church. Two of them were a result of impressive physical healings. One said, “if a religion can bring about that kind of healing, I want to be a member.” All four are sharing Christian Science in the jail, and at prisons after they were transferred. We have found that once an inmate makes that commitment, it really spurs their growth and activity. It is also worth noting that as a member of The Mother Church, they are now eligible for assistance from The Principle Foundation when they are released.
At the jail this past year, Arthur Mayes and I had over 2,400 inmate contacts. Some of these were repeated contacts with the same people but still this is almost double from last year. We shared 427 copies of Science and Health, 470 Bibles, 1200 Bible Lessons, 849 Sentinels and 160 Monitors. There were also smaller numbers of Prose Works, Manuals, Hymnals and other books shared. This distribution was made possible by The State Committee, area churches and local members like Ann Sever who diligently collects literature and removes address labels. It also cannot happen without the metaphysical support of people like Christian Science practioner and teacher, Barbara Johnson, and other local members in Houston. I am deeply grateful for everyone that is supporting this Christ activity.
I wanted to close with an experience related to working with the professional jail chaplain. When I started at the jail three years ago, I was challenged by two of the professional chaplains to defend my faith in Christian Science. While quite aggressive, both chaplains expressed their loving desire to “save me” from cult of Christian Science. There were at least three of these long discussions. We remained cordial and in fact we became friends on social media. I did however, realize that I really needed to step up my study of the Bible and be able to explain Christian Science by using scripture alone. This proved to be an immense help in sharing Christian Science with Christian inmates who were solid students of the Bible. The challenge really was a blessing in disguise. The chaplains did however, seek to limit our Christian Science outreach to certain people and floors in the jail. At the end of that first year, the chaplain’s office had a major overhaul and one of the two chaplains left. All limitations on our activity soon disappeared. We could go anywhere and talk to anyone. Our ministry really began to flourish. Just two weeks ago, the one remaining chaplain called me into his office. He wanted to discuss coverage of the cell blocks as he wanted to make sure inmates are not being left out. He then asked what was my message of the day? I said, “choosing to accept God’s Word over what the 5 senses are telling us.” He paused and said what a great message. He then was very complimentary of Arthur and myself and our service to the jail. He closed the meeting by first apologizing for my initial reception into the jail three years ago. He said he was wrong to challenge and debate Christian Science vs his faith. I said no worries, it was a blessing to push me deeper into my study of the Bible. He further added that he was so grateful for Arthur and I and so loved what we are doing in the jail. He gave me a big hug and said I love you man. I said I love you too, man. For me, this was a wonderful demonstration of the power of Truth, as interpreted in Christian Science, to overcome scholastic theology and mortal resistance. I also so the proof that as we, ourselves, understand Christian Science better, resistance falls away. Mary Baker Eddy said the following on this subject, “the resistance to Christian Science weakens in proportion as one understands it and demonstrates the Science of Christianity.” (Message to the Mother Church in 1901, 15:9-12)
Thank you for the opportunity to share this report and I look forward to the fruitage coming up later.