Washington State Reformatory Hosts Four Baptisms

There were lots of smiling faces—and really cold water!" says Kim Willis, tireless volunteer program sponsor.

But nobody—not even the four inmates in the photo—really minded the chill as they were baptized on Thursday evening, July 24, at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, Wash.

"I realize that life's not going to get easier," says one of the inmates who was baptized, "but I'm finally taking a stand for something."

These baptisms happened thanks to the Holy Spirit working through a close and cooperative partnership between prison ministry volunteer sponsors from the Monroe and Bellevue churches. Months of fellowship, Bible study—and much prayer—brought these four men to the point where on July 24, Mike Maldonado, Monroe pastor, stood beside the waist-high prison baptistery and immersed these four happy men. Earlier this year Maldonado baptized two inmates from the nearby Twin Rivers unit.

Monroe Correctional Complex is the largest prison in the state with nearly 2,500 inmates. Strong volunteer support from the Monroe Church makes it possible to currently present programs in four of the five Monroe Correctional Complex units. During July, volunteers spent over 170 hours—and had contact with more than 630 inmates—facilitating Bible studies, church services, Friday evening 12-step programs, and a weekly Thursday evening Bible video seminar. Attending these groups are not only Christians but Native Americans, Buddhists, Muslims and even Wiccans.

"When I go to the prison," says Camilo Avila, volunteer, "I always get more than I give."

October 01, 2008 / Washington Conference