The Contender

"It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 1:3 

October 2018


Lamentations 3:6-8 “He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.”



Oh, how clearly I remember listening to the wise words coming from the heart of ABC’s Ted Koppel on April 22, 1993 at the Dedication Ceremony of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC from Lamentations 1:12

“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”  

Take a moment of your precious time and revisit the sobering words of Elie Wiesel (Nazi prison camp survivor) as he spoke of the sobering danger of an increasing concern in our own day:

“Indifference is a Sin And a Punishment.”

I recommend to everyone that we take time to read and muse upon the words of Jeremiah’s tears written so powerfully and soberly in Lamentations. O, how I thank God for the quiet, early hours of each morning when I can consider with increasing clarity the pending, terminal condition of my own nation: America.

The experience noted above in Lamentations 3:6-8 may seem foreign to many reading this letter, but, it’s a lament being wept in many hearts throughout our own nation and the world. While perhaps unsettling to read, it awakens me to personal introspection.

Lamentations 2:9(b)  “…the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD” is a text needing to be soberly weighed within our own time and space.

While many rest and even pontificate during this parenthesis of political unrest and upheaval in the United States, our children’s children face a brewing firestorm of most dangerous, unprecedented suffering and affliction. Apart from a Holy Spirit and Word centered season of repentance and revival this Republic shall not long remain.



Dear friends in the Lord...You are receiving this newsletter because you're officially called a registered, Professional Religious Volunteer (aka "PRV") at Chester County Prison.

Your ministry at the prison is extremely valuable and much appreciated. Know that you are making a difference in the lives of those you are ministering to. The in-house chaplains often hear positive reports from the inmates about your faithfulness, love, patience and dedication. You may the first or only person they know who exemplifies the life of Christ. May they see Christ in us every day.

I mentioned that I will include a short paragraph in my monthly newsletter (The Contender) which will address a variety of prison-related items. 

The last item in June's list was called "Reentry-focused ministry". This month I will elaborate on this point because it captures our very purpose...our vision for inmates returning to their communities.

• First of all...Attempt to help the inmate grow in their personal devotion to the Lord Jesus. This will include helping them establish new thinking and lifestyle habits/disciplines such as daily prayer, Bible reading, meditation, scripture memorization, fellowship with other believers and entering into a meaningful relationship with a spiritual mentor and/or accountability partner.

• Secondly, actively and intentionally help them identify and connect with a group of believers in the area where he/she intends to live and work after release. It will be a extremely beneficial to establish this connection while the inmate is still incarcerated or if that is not possible, do introduce the returning citizen to a mentor or representative of that group at the time of release.

• It seems as if the character and intentions of the person who "fetches" the inmate at the prison or at the courthouse often sets the tone for how the integration into society will play out. One suggestion is to be that person at the "gate". Offer to take them home, buy them a meal of their choice and use that occasion to connect them to their future mentor from their community.

• In order to effectively refer the returning inmate to the resources that may help alleviate their immediate needs upon release, it is suggested that you actively make and maintain a list/directory of current organizations, churches and individuals in your area who may be willing and able to provide assistance in the spiritual, social, financial, legal, health, academic areas of life. 

• Resources for Reentry: Follow this link for a list of resources you may consider when helping an inmate return to society.

We will discuss these points again in future newsletters. Please don't feel intimidated by this seemingly "new" approach. It's not new...it is doing what we were called to do...to make disciples. The only difference is that we will now attempt to prepare inmates for 'life on the outside' and not only focus on their immediate needs during incarceration.

This process will look different for each and every inmate and none of us as volunteers will be "better or worse" than another. We do however plan to learn from each other's experience. More about this will be announced in future editions.

One last thing...Please help us collect reliable data about group sessions (church services/classes) by completing the Group Session Data Report that is available in the chapel and at the Work Release Center. Your cooperation is much appreciated.


Promise Made

In 1933, a faithful band of pastor/teachers gathered to birth the Old Mill Bible Conference here in Brandamore, Pennsylvania. Leading the way was Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

His great commentary on Romans remains a timeless, precious resource to all of us in this very present hour. One thing that was certain in the Charter was a call for the perpetuity of proclaiming sound doctrine from this sanctified property at 127 Brandamore Road.

In the summer of 1992, what was once a hallowed land was found to be an almost forsaken, fallow-acreage of forgotten promises and a rejected statement of mission. By the mercy and grace of God, County Corrections Gospel Mission (CCGM) was entrusted with its purchase from Philadelphia College of the Bible (PCB) for $75,000.00.

It took just 60 days for the acquisition to be secured in cash through the miraculous working of the hand of God and the heart of God’s faithful people. CCGM made a promise to PCB to keep this sacred trust for the ministry of the Gospel for the period of at least 20 years from the day of its acquisition.


Promise Kept

On Sunday, July 22nd at 6pm we again gathered for the Fourth Sunday Night Solemn Assembly featuring the Harmony Quartet, Chester County’s Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band and the preaching of Lt. Colonel Michael Belton (military commander and former ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” Sentinel).

I asked Lt. Colonel Belton to preach his most urgent heart-cry to our lives and we focused our evening upon the many urgencies and concerns of our own Republic’s frail and wanting condition. (Visit our website for an audio and video recording of Michael's message "Those Who Truly Serve, Serve God")

In 1973, we embraced the heartcries of the Chester County Prison. The awakening of our hearts to the urgent and pandemic needs of our incarcerated mothers and fathers beckoned us to commence a ministry to our neighboring children.

Who would have ever dreamed that by 1992, God would have provided such a precious and sacred venue as The Old Mill Bible Conference to serve so many boys and girls or myriads of police, broken families and churches?


Match The Gift

As I write to you, I want to remind you that we presently have an opportunity provided to us by a private, gracious donor for a matching gift of $21,200.

We would like to move forward in renovating bathrooms and a fellowship/game room at Camp at Old Mill but will forego any major decision until such time as God might see fit to meet this need. One thing is certain: we trust Him!

Thank you to those of you who have sacrificed much on behalf of County Corrections Gospel Mission, Chester County Prison, and the Camp at Old Mill. Our mission continues to center upon the reflected urgencies of the prison.

We are NOT a camp, but, a mission-to-prison which happens to have been wonderfully blessed with a camp from which we’ve been able to serve police, corrections and the precious lives reflected from their realms of daily, faithful service within our nation’s communities.

I pray for the day when God will awaken the missionary-heart-of-the-local-church to fully embrace every life now incarcerated within our county prison’s walls! I’ve been long convinced that addressing the least and lost nearest our homes will always find us faithful to the unchanging mandates of the Great Commission and the very real concerns of our nation.

I’ll gladly pour out my heart in any church that would give me the opportunity and do all I can to assist it in embracing the reflected urgencies within reach in and beyond it’s own county’s prison.

Sincerely Written and With Anticipation of Serving You,

Jack Crans

Lamentations 5:21 “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.”