April 2, 2017

When the Holy Spirit Went to Prison

Carol Bolden, Mid-America Union

It was nearly 8 pm when three members of a Colorado, United States prison ministry team arrived at Crowley County Correctional Facility to baptize an inmate. Richardhad already waited two months because each time the baptism was scheduled, something happened to prevent it. Once it was so cold the sprinkler pipes in the chapel froze and they couldn’t fill the baptismal tank. Another time, Pastor Ted Williams arrived late and the prison officials wouldn’t allow the baptism to take place.

Pastor Ted Williams signs baptismal certificates for three men at Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, Colorado, United States. [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski]

Finally, on January 13, it was scheduled again and Richard, a graduate of the Discover Bible Course, waited eagerly. Williams left early to avoid heavy traffic. When he joined the other two members of the ministry team at the prison, he prayed asking for the Holy Spirit to take charge of the evening. But when the guard escorted them to the chapel, they discovered not only was it filled with Messianic Jewish brothers, but the baptismal tank was piled high with all kinds of materials.

After a brief discussion, the two groups agreed to hold a blended service. “That’s no problem,” the chaplain said, meaning it was okay to hold the blended service, “but it’s already 8 pm and services will be over at 8:30. It will take 30 minutes to fill the baptismal tank.”

“How would you feel about letting the Holy Spirit take care of this?” asked Williams. With a nod of approval, they headed back to the chapel. It was 8:07 pm. With everyone’s help, they moved the baptistry and measured the baptismal candidate to see how much water was needed. Within 10 minutes, it was full enough for a baptism.

The Messianic brothers and the Adventist brothers waited expectantly as the pastor talked about the meaning of baptism. He told them that a party was getting ready to start in heaven. Several of the Messianic brothers prayed, and Williams’ prayer followed. Then he baptized Richard.

“Wonderful, amazing things happen, things beyond our expectation, when we let the Holy Spirit take charge”

In the afterglow of the baptism, the Messianic group leader pointed to a man in his group. “This man,” he said, “has been wanting to be baptized for some time, but the chaplain won’t let him because he hasn’t declared a religion.”

“I don’t know you,” said Williams, “but the Holy Spirit does. I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and he submerged the second candidate.

A third man then came forward saying, “I haven’t been in services for two months, but I hear the call. Will you baptize me?” So a third baptism took place, and they praised God and prayed together. The clock read 8:27 pm.

“Wonderful, amazing things happen,” concluded Williams, “things beyond our expectation, when we let the Holy Spirit take charge.”

An original version of this news story was published in the online edition of the Mid-America Outlook magazine at outlookmag.org.