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82-year-old Texan named MSC volunteer of the year

DALLAS (BP)–Eighty-two-year-old Sue Low, who helped lead 646 inmates to Christ in the Dallas County Jail the past four years, has been named Mission Service Corps Volunteer of the Year by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Low, a member of First Baptist Church of Oak Cliff in Dallas, celebrated her 82nd birthday in the Dallas County Jail, leading four men to Christ the day before her birthday and leading 28 inmates in Bible study the day after.
During the past 12 years, she and her husband, Asa, who died in 1996, led 1,200 people to Christ in their jail ministry.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and some have told me it’s too dangerous for me,” Low said, “but I’ve never done anything that brought me such joy.
“When I was 20 years old, God called me into special service. … I earned a degree in music. I kept believing that God had something else he wanted me to do.
“For the first time, the hurt and pain has gone. Now I know what God called me to do.”
Texas MSC director Sam Pearis said, “Sue Low is one of more than 2,450 Mission Service Corps volunteers across the Southern Baptist Convention involved in Christian ministries.
“MSC volunteers serving in Texas last year with churches, associations and the Baptist General Convention of Texas provided almost $28 million in ministry and service.”
Among the treasured mementos of Low’s ministry is a letter from 23-year-old Tammy whom she led to Christ in the jail.
“When we talked, she was scared and had cried for two days over the death of her boyfriend,” Low said. “I shared the plan of salvation with her and she became a Christian.”
Tammy was sentenced to prison but is out now and working. While in prison she wrote Low: “My boyfriend died because of his drug involvement. That could have been me. I would have died and gone to hell without knowing about God’s love if you had not shared the plan of salvation.”
In sharing her Christian testimony with church and women’s groups, Low reminds them that “I am not doing anything you cannot do. Every town and city has a jail with people who need to hear about God’s love.
“We need Christian men and women who know how to present the plan of salvation, who love people and who are willing to give of their time, efforts and money.” –30– 11/3/98 Chaplains relate calling, stresses of ministry to those amid crisis By James Dotson
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–William Garris admits he often has an R-rated ministry. It comes with the territory as a prison chaplain. A U.S. Air Force air traffic controller who became a pastor after retirement, Garris discovered his specific calling after being asked to volunteer two mornings a week at a local prison.
Garris was one of several chaplains who shared testimonies of God’s work in their lives in conjunction with an orientation for Southern Baptist chaplains and their spouses at North American Mission Board offices in Alpharetta, Ga. His comments came during an Oct. 30 chapel service for NAMB staff attended by the 23 chaplains and spouses participating in the orientation.
The Chaplaincy Commission of the North American Mission Board, the endorsing body for Southern Baptists, recently announced more than 3,000 chaplains are currently serving under endorsement around the world — fulfilling one of the original goals of the Bold Mission Thrust initiative.
Garris told of one inmate who recounted gruesome details of stabbing a man during a robbery. “You really want to look the other way. But I never could,” he said. “I remember that Jesus told us, ‘When I was in prison, you visited me.'” Another time, an inmate told him about what it was like growing up with a prostitute for a mother and an alcoholic father who supplied his mother with customers. The inmate was forced to steal food as a child, and often was threatened with a pistol by his father. He grew up hating the world, even to the point of taking pleasure in smashing “rich kids'” lunchboxes. Garris, he said, was the only person in his life whom he could call a friend. “I knew I was where God wanted me to be,” Garris said, later noting he has counseled 9,678 inmates during his ministry and baptized 73. “I have learned the difference in feeling sorry for someone and having the same compassion that Jesus would,” he said. “Regardless of their morality, they all have one thing in common. They are hurting. What would Jesus want us to do?” Doyle Oliver, chaplain for diabetes and heart patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, told how he often sees patients and their families during the greatest crises in their lives. “We are a fast-paced hospital, with tremendous pressure,” he said. “But it is one of the most challenging places I’ve ever been in to minister to people that are hurting and scared and have to make life-changing and life-threatening decisions.” Capt. William Johnson, a U.S. Army chaplain, told how God intervened to allow him into the chaplaincy program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary despite an apparent lack of experience. He currently serves at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. “I think it’s the best job in the ministry, I really do,” he said. “Because where the troops are, that’s where we go. I have been in airplanes and seen troops come to know Christ. I have been on the flight line and seen troops come to know Christ. “It’s just remarkable,” he told NAMB staff. “Thank you for putting us chaplains in places where most people can’t go.” Southern Baptist chaplains serve around the world in health care, military, private industry and other fields. NAMB’s chaplaincy evangelism team provides official endorsement, conferences, field visits, pastoral care and other support.

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  • Orville Scott