Kyle Curington says he’s got a lot of motivations to keep going into Bullock Correctional Facility every Christmas, but one of the biggest ones is this.
“It’s quite an experience when you go into the dorm to hand out presents to the inmates and tell them that we love them, God loves them and the outside world is thinking about them,” he said. “Some of them have been disowned by their families or don’t have any families, and when we tell them that, tears well up in their eyes.”
For more than a decade, Curington, a member of First Baptist Church, Union Springs, in Bullock Baptist Association, and others have gone into the prison every Christmas to hand out Christmas presents to the inmates.
“We make an assembly line at the prison and pack gallon (plastic) bags with all kinds of goodies — food, deodorant, pencils and other things,” Curington said.
It’s a longstanding ministry, but the relationship between area Baptists and inmates isn’t just a once-a-year thing.
Curington and others have taught Sunday School in the prison for about 25 years, even starting a new Sunday School program at Easterling Correctional Facility when some of the inmates transferred over from Bullock and found they didn’t have Bible study there.
“Starting a ministry to prisoners in our area was the vision of Tom Randall, who was our pastor back then,” Curington said. “He had a feeling in his heart that the prisoners needed access to Bible study.”
With the permission of the prison, Randall, Curington and others were designated a portion of the property inside the chain-link fence and built a chapel for prisoners, “maybe the prettiest chapel you’ve ever seen,” Curington said.
He and others tore down an old school nearby, and with the help of prisoners who cleaned up the brick, they built the chapel with exposed wood beams from the school gym.
“A lot of people made that happen and God has done a lot of things through this ministry,” Curington said. “It’s been quite a ride but it’s been a good ride.” (Grace Thornton)