Young Detainees Find Faith

God still works in mysterious ways to seek out those who desire to be a part of His kingdom.

Ed Sanders of Grants Pass, Ore., has been going to the Southern Oregon Youth Authority Detention Center for almost two years, where he studies the Bible with a number of young men, ages 14–23.

Earlier this year one young man, Levi Shepherd, completed two courses from Amazing Facts and received a diploma. Another young man, Mikle Diener, studied weekly with Sanders. Both wanted to be baptized.

However, no facilities were available at the detention center to accommodate the request. So Shepherd requested transfer to the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Ore., where there is a swimming pool. At the same time, Diener was transfered to the Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility in Salem, Ore., where there is also a pool.

In July 2008, Sanders received three phone calls from the MacLaren chaplain (a Catholic priest) asking if he was coming up to the Salem area in August as there was a young man there who wanted to be baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist. Meanwhile, the chaplain at Hillcrest contacted MacLaren and arranged for Diener to be baptized at the same time.

In late August, Sanders and his wife, Darlene, drove to Salem to conduct the baptisms. As it happened, Diener was released from Hillcrest on Friday, Aug. 22, 2008. His baptism was scheduled for Sabbath, Aug. 23. What to do?

Darlene’s cousin, a member of the Silverton (Ore.) Church, checked with her pastor, who willingly offered the use of the church’s baptistery. So it was that at the close of the church service on Sabbath morning, Aug. 23, Diener was baptized by Sanders.

Shepherd was waiting at MacLaren, but the swimming pool was out of order. So the chaplain provided a laundry cart for the baptism, which took place on Sunday, Aug. 24. Only Sanders was allowed to go in with his pass and no pictures could be taken. The chaplain, Shepherd and four other young men were waiting at 1 p.m. for this service. Shepherd has been studying God’s Bible truth with the four young men who wanted to witness the baptism.

As Sanders continues his weekly Bible studies at the Southern Oregon Youth Authority Detention Center, four more detainees have requested baptism.

January 01, 2009 / Oregon Conference