Influencers Prison Report from the First Journey Group in Parchman (Mississippi)
Influencer George Carnall from the Memphis Branch reported about the successful completion of the first Journey group of inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman. We have shared before how Journey groups have been used at prisons around the country, and George’s report is another inspiring account of the Holy Spirit working.
Here is George’s report:
After the last Summit in 2022, when I heard of some people talking about a Journey in a prison setting, I wondered how I could get into Parchman or who could I approach to ask about establishing a group inside Parchman. As it happened, it was all led by God.
I participated in a one-day Kairos Renewal, stood next to the Chaplain, we talked, went to his office, talked some more and he asked, “What do you do when you are not “Kairosing”?” I said, “I help men discover how to have an intimate, abiding relationship with Jesus through a process called The Journey.” He said, “We want to do that here.” I said, “No, you must be led by Holy Spirit. I will send you a book, read it first, see whether it resonates with you, and get back with me if Holy Spirit speaks to you.” He later called me and asked when we could begin, and we set a date in November 2022, and the rest is history.
Eight guys were transformed from being followers of Jesus to becoming disciples and abiders of Jesus. Below are some of the stories of transformation George witnessed and heard about from the men.
One man was sitting on his bed when someone walked up to his bed, began cursing and saying all kinds of things to him, and challenged him to a fight. The Journey participant had had enough of the slander and put first one shoe on, then tied the shoe laces of the other shoe and was beginning to stand up to confront this guy when he saw his bible on a small table. He remembered that in the book of Ephesians, shoes were represented as part of the armor of God. So, he stood up, looked at the other man, turned away from him, and knelt down on his bed to pray for the man. Eventually the man walked away, but others who had gathered around the confrontation stayed to talk with him. He has said since the first extended prayer session that he has never felt better; he feels free. He told the chaplains that this Journey is the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Another man lost his wife during our nine months together and said how important the concern, support, and prayers of the other participants were in getting over the grief of not being with her in her last days on earth.
Another admitted after the first extended prayer session that he could not give up his anger and hate for those who, he said, lied during his trial so many years ago about what he did to them. However, at the second extended time of prayer, he cried and sobbed and said he finally released all these feelings and prayed for the two girls. He said he felt so free, so fresh, unburdened and his anger was gone. Sometime in the last couple of months, he was told the two young female witnesses recanted their testimony and proceedings have begun for his release. He attributes all of this to the Lord.
One participant said he was admitted as an emergency into the hospital for his sky-high blood pressure due to an unknown diabetic condition. When the hospital staff was able to bring down his blood levels to a relatively normal reading, he began to look around at the other men in the hospital. Many were angry, frustrated, or had little to no hope. He got out of his bed to walk over to pray for them. He said, “I thought I was going to the hospital to be healed, but God wanted to show me a new mission field for ministry.” Although he has received Certificates from other classes while at Parchman, I believe he would tell you the Certificate that means the most to him is the Journey Certificate of Completion.
Another said that when he now communicates with his family, most of his conversation is what he has learned in scripture and how the scripture applies to members of his family. He said he would never mention scripture before participating in the Journey.
Most of the other Journey participants have said that other offenders in their zones have asked when the next Journey group is to begin, and those same offenders want to go over the study with the Journey participants when they return to the zone from a Journey meeting.
Importantly, these eight men smiled and laughed, hugged, and greeted one another when they walked into the Journey meeting room for our sessions. They looked forward to the meetings just about more than any other thing they did at Parchman. I believe the men would tell you they now realize that being at Parchman and participating in the Journey group has been very beneficial to their life.
We have asked the Lord to show us which participants have been called to help us guide the 2024 Journey Groups. Soon, we hope to have Journey Groups led exclusively by the Lord and Parchman inmates!
Jason Habbershaw, Dwayne Davis, and I (the group guides) are so grateful to be part of this special spiritual Journey at Parchman!!