I am often struck by the uniqueness of the Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministries. It was the first community supported jail/prison ministry in the state. And the first to hire a full-time African American female chaplain. It serves maximum and minimum security facilities.
Perhaps the most remarkable characteristic is the people who serve God as volunteers. And of all God’s “peculiar treasures” that give time here – Ron Spease was on the short list at the top.
I see Ron in the Gospel story of the men who brought the paralytic to Jesus – only to find that they had to remove the tiles of the roof to lower him to Jesus. Ron was like one of those faithful friends. He carried a lot of wounded people to Jesus and he pulled a lot of tiles off church traditions to get the job done.
Ron ripped away pretense, tradition and society that are obstacles in jail ministry for many of us. Some folks have big titles that join with a fear of getting dirty in the mess of an offender’s life. Ron sought no recognition and had little fear of the opinions of others. Instead, his titles were ex-offenders whom he led to Jesus. He didn’t build buildings – Ron ripped the roof off of anything that kept wounded people from seeing Jesus – whether it be an inmate’s addiction or a church’s rejection of ex-offenders. He simply refused to rest until those outside got to come in and see Jesus.
A few weeks ago after a long battle with cancer Ron left us to overcome life’s final challenge, to rip the roof off of this world to get to Jesus and be healed. I hope I can follow Ron’s example and serve Jesus as a “roof ripper,” too.
-Chaplain Rodney Stilwell