Where and When Did It All Start
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40
According to our records, the very first Bible Study at the Matagorda County Jail was initiated by one woman who approached Sheriff Kilgore in December 1994. This Woman’s Bible Study was a part of the catalyst for the formation of South Texas Prison Outreach by a group of men from First Baptist Church. They formed our first South Texas Prison Outreach Board, pursued the legal paperwork to Incorporate and filed for 501 (c) 3 status. The Men’s Bible Study at the Matagorda County Jail was held for the first time in March 1995 a short three months after the initial Bible Study. South Texas Prison Outreach was immediately opened to other church participation. Because of the population size of Matagorda County no one church is able to handle and staff all Bible Studies. We continued for a number of years to have the Women’s Bible Study followed by the Men’s Bible Study every Wednesday evening. Inmate attendance continue to increase and at the request of Sheriff Mitchell the Women’s Bible Study and the Men’s Bible Study were moved to separate days. For years we had a Tuesday Night Women’s Bible Study and a Wednesday Night Men’s Bible Study. As Matagorda County continued to grow the population of the inmates increased also.
After the remodel of the jail Captain James asked if we could add an additional Men’s Bible Study to keep tanks separated. Thursday was added to our schedule and for the next few years we organized and led 3 Bible Studies a week. Thursday was also an opportunity for more pastors and church lay-leaders to become involved as it did not interfere with the Wednesday church commitments.
Over the years we have been asked by surrounding counties and counties as far away as a 300 miles to implement the same Bible Studies in their counties. We always stress that in order to do that the churches in that county must agree to work together, laying down church doctrine and agreeing on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, His life and His ministry. Every member is encouraged to invite inmates to visit their church and at that time take the opportunity to discuss church doctrine. This is the model that has worked over the years. We have had 15 or more churches actively participating in ministry or financially donating to buy each inmate a Free On The Inside Bible.