ANNISTON, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- Nearly 1,600 prisoners have stirred the baptismal waters at the Calhoun County Jail since Chaplain Richard Green began his ministry there in 2008. A service over the June 6 weekend added 60 more to that count.
"Every time he comes in here and tells me how many people they're going to be baptizing in a week or so, I'm amazed," Laura Hughes, a representative from the Calhoun Baptist Association which sponsors Green's ministry, told Christian Examiner.
Chaplain Green left a professional career to minister to inmates at the jail -- a move made possible by gifts and donations from individuals, churches and even other denominations that are funnelled through the association to his salary, Hughes said.
"It's a rough job sitting in front of somebody that's done something horrendous and try to show the love of God," she noted. "He has a difficult time but he's absolutely gifted in that area."
Corrections officer Judson Blewster told ABC 3340 Green's ministry is changing the lives of men and women who have hit bottom. For example, the inmates who participated in Saturday's baptism were convicted on charges that range from rape to drug possession and child abuse.
"What Chaplain Richard Green has done with the Calhoun County Jail ministry is given the people the chance to get themselves out and get back where they need to be and get back up on their feet," Blewster told the news station.
Blewster noted that sometimes, inmates that make professions of faith are not fully committed to turning their lives around. Still, for others, their newfound faith is what gets them through each day.
"I've been here almost a year. If it wasn't for God, I would have went crazy in here because that's the only thing that's gotten me through this" Sonya Lloyd, 44, a female Calhoun County inmate told the news station. Prior to her July 2014 arrest for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, Lloyd was involved in church, but "got away from the Lord."
Women inmates like Lloyd are reached through the prison ministry with the help of Green's volunteer assistant, Ann Bradshaw.
Together Green and Bradshaw provide pastoral care to inmates and correctional officers of all faiths. In addition to religious activities like worship services and Bible studies, the jail ministry also offers released prisoners assistance with transitioning back into society, according to Hughes.
"They help them find the place they need to be when they get released. Whether its home or drug rehabilitation or whatever, they try to help them find that place. They've even bought bus tickets to help them get back home," she said.
Still, their ministry does not stop there as the two have also been known to counsel and pray with inmates' out-of-town family members by phone, Hughes added, noting their dedication to sharing the Gospel.
"Their hearts are very much into that ministry," Hughes said. The jail ministry is said to host baptism events like the one Saturday every three months.