MONROE, MI – For more than 12 years Dale Beal has been the chaplain in jail ministry in Monroe County. He ministers in two locations. One is the Main location which houses maximum security prisoners, and the other is the Dorm facility which houses minimum security prisoners. The dorm also houses Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Detainees. He goes to the Main House every other Tuesday and into the Dorm House every Wednesday. Two different men travel with Dale, and together they preach God’s Word. Just like many churches do today, they flash the words and the pictures of different hymns on the wall while they sing. In the Main House, they are locked in a room with a maximum number of 15 prisoners. They are given a two-way radio, and cameras monitor throughout the room. Most of the men they encounter are headed to prison. Prison will be far worse for them than jail. Every night Dale and his volunteer are thanked for giving up their time to come and minister.
The chaplain team focuses their time on the Gospel, sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ each week. Beal says, “I have seen some of the hardest guys break down and cry. God is breaking down the hardness of their hearts. Last month, a guy, who is on his way to prison, came up to me after the service asking to talk. With tears in his eyes, he said “Thank you.” It was obvious the Holy Spirit was doing a mighty work in this man’s life and so many others. Only God knows how much he needed to hear the words of salvation in Christ that I talked about that night. We are so amazingly blessed by the privilege of sharing with these guys each week.”
During his time of serving in the jail, Beal has been able to perform three weddings in the Main House and four in the Dorm House. When he officiated his first wedding, a guard told him he was the first to perform a wedding in the Main jail, and that he was the only one who had permission to do so in the Dorm jail. In another rare sign of trust, he is also allowed to bring cookies and pop into the Dorm for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The women of CrossPointe Church Monroe bake the cookies in another form of volunteer help for the ministry. Beal adds, “This simple act of caring means so much to the men in the jail. It is easy for society to forget about them and yet their need to be loved is greater than ever when isolated from friends and family.”
More than 65% of the jail inmates are alcoholics or drug addicts. Beal shares, “I know all too well since I was once both of those. Thanks be to God I have been sober 26 years. This is one reason the guys like coming to my service, I used to be just like them, but Jesus changed me. We have an instant connection where God took something bad in my life and now uses it for good.”
Jesus is doing some mighty things in the Monroe County jails. But Chaplain Beal says so much more can be done if more Michigan Baptists come to be a part of this important ministry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chaplain Dale Beal, leads the Freedom Jail Ministry for CrossPointe Church Monroe. Former biker, addict and troublemaker, now transformed and on mission with God to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.