A MONTH IN THE LIFE OF COMMON GROUNDS MINISTRIES
When I can’t think of a good story, I tend to regress to the mundane act of sharing our schedule. (Truth is, I can always think of a good story, but in this letter, it should be true.)
The month of May started out with a Gospel Echoes banquet. Their three week banquet tour came through Holmes County (twice), so I joined them in Walnut Creek for a song, a good testimony, fellowship and some good Dutchman cooking.
The rest of that week I was in a studio recording my book, The Power of a Song, to be an Audio Book. If it’s recorded professionally well, it can be heard on Audible.com. If it doesn’t meet their standards, it can be obtained on our website or local bookstores.
While I was in the studio, I also read the story of The Hochstetler Massacre from The Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler by Harvey Hochstetler. This audio reading will be included on a CD to accompany the song, The Ballad of Jacob Hochstetler. It will be available at the Quinquennial Hochstetler Reunion in Arthur, IL, July 28 & 29. If you don’t know what “quinquennial” means, join the club I use to belong to. It means, “every five years.”
I had three funerals, eight Bible studies, an auction, a 50th wedding anniversary celebration (Phil & Diane Sarlo), an Amish School year-end concert and an Amish School end-of-year picnic (Flat Ridge), many morning coffee meetings, two concerts, a Memorial Day service at the Butler-Morgan Cemetery, south of Moreland (where 3 revolutionary soldiers and Shawnee Chief Cornstalk’s daughter are buried) and one prison!
Speaking of prison: prisons are opening up, but our problem (that is, Common Ground Ministry’s problem) is a shortage of staff to answer the phone or our emails. Gospel Echoes president, Glendon Bender, reported that prisons are at 50% staffing, which means much overtime, tired officers, more danger, more attacks, more suicides among inmates… and who wants to apply for a job where safety is compromised?! There have been several riots because of staff shortage. It’s a dangerous spiral that is going down. The fewer staff there is, the more dangerous; the more dangerous, the harder it is to hire new staff. Pray for our prison system and prison workers; our prison ministry; our crime plagued nation.
Also: Over half of the chaplains that I knew, and had a long relationship with, retired during the stressful two years of COVID, with shut downs, isolation, no visitors, mask and testing mandates, sickness and death. Yesterday I finally got a return call from the new chaplain of a prison where we have ministered for over 30 years. “Now, who are you? And what is the name of your organization? And what do you do?” After 33 years, we are starting over in that institution.
It’s not that we have nothing to do. We still have chaplains who know us and welcome us to their facilities. Our schedule is full and useful with churches, concerts, banquets,, etc. But our calling is to prisons. So, until we can get back on track with prisons, we will “occupy until He comes.” The fields are ripe for harvest.
We look forward to a busy, happy summer. We have trips planned to Maine, Illinois, Pa., Germany and…? We will sing and share wherever we can.
Have a great summer! Occupy until He comes! (Luke 19:13)