God has shown himself faithful for the past 40
years. Not too much, never too late, just in time, God
has supplied the needs of this ministry. As we make
a transition from Peter to Heinrich we pray God will
continue to supply the needs “…..according to his
riches in Christ Jesus.” Thank you in advance for your
faithful financial support.
2018 is a transition year as we welcome the next chaplain to serve at Chester County Prison. Peter is retiring after 27 years of ministry at CCP. He and Theresa are making a move to their beloved new home in Lewes, Delaware. As we began the process of
finding the next chaplain we were not quite sure how God was going to honor our prayers. It took months before we would “catch up to God’s leading.” In the end God had someone ready to carry on the ministry. God was preparing Heinrich Botes to step into the position beginning in April 2018.
Heinrich was already working with Chaplain Jack Crans of Country Corrections Gospel Mission and was involved with prison ministry. How grateful I am we did not need to “start over” with someone who did not know Chester County Prison, its staff and administration, or Onesimus Ministries. It took a little while until we came to understand that God was already preparing for this transition with someone already involved in prison ministry.
You are invited to attend our annual banquet at Mt. Vernon Christian Church in Kirkwood, PA on April 6 at 6:30 pm. Come a bit earlier to enjoy the fellowship of others who support this ministry. Our evening always promises to be a great evening of worship and encouragement. This year come be a part of the 40th year celebration of God’s faithfulness. We will be saying thank you to Doug Burnette for the original vision of helping other inmates as he himself was helped. We will be saying thank you to Peter Roomet for his years of service to people who need and want the same help he received when he sat in his cell on the block. We will welcome Heinrich Botes who will, in obedience to the Lord, lead in the continuation of the Onesimus Ministries of helping men and women become useful to Christ, their families, and their communities.
We are in our 40th year of Prison Fellowship in
Chester County Prison. We continue to hold two
services each Monday night – one for medium security
and one for minimum security. Total attendance of
both services is about 40 or 45 men.
We thank God for faithful volunteers at these
services each Monday night. They are being obedient
to the admonition in Hebrews 13:3a which says:
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were
together with them in prison.”
Serving as the women’s chaplain these past 20 plus years has been, and continues to be, an honor and privilege to serve the inmates as if I am serving our Lord. One of my greatest joys is watching the women grow in their walk with Christ and trusting Him with their lives. I pray on a daily basis they will have a lifelong relationship with Him. Many times I share Proverbs 3:5,6. God is opening eyes and hearts. Seeing the light of God in their eyes keeps me encouraged daily. Daily they are reminded to share with their cell mates the things they have learned and what God is doing in them.
One of the biggest challenges is encouraging the ladies to not leave God behind when they are released, but to use their time here to prepare for when they are released so that they continue to grow in their walk and service to the Lord. Understanding that their lives are difficult and many times their futures uncertain, my encouragement to them is that they walk not alone. God is with them every step of their journey. We are thankful for the Bibles, religious books, and journals for the inmates, offering them the tools they need to grow. As always, we thank you for your prayers and faithful support. You are loved and appreciated.
Greetings to all of the Partners of Onesimus Ministries.
It is with a joyful, yet sad, heart I send you my last message as the Pastoral Chaplain of Chester County Prison. Twenty-seven years have passed since I first walked through the doors of Chester County Prison as a chaplain. It has been 32 years since I first walked through the doors of Chester County Prison as an inmate. Doesn’t God have an interesting way of “working all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?” (Romans 8:28). This is a verse that I have learned to live by to help me understand “the now” of God’s plan.
The plan now is that my wife Theresa and I are to move to southern Delaware and realize what the next step of life for us is to be. One cannot turn left until one reaches the left turn. It is time (27 years) for me to move along in life and ministry. I do not know what the future holds but I know who has a hold of it. (“Not I but Christ in me…” Gal. 2:20). I am more than willing to continue in whatever ministry Jesus would have me be a part of, preferably on a part-time volunteer basis. As a volunteer I will be able to have more time to share life and explore with Theresa and thereby enjoying growing older together.
As for volunteer work; Sussex County State Prison is not far away and a mission is around the corner. Opportunity will be close by in many directions, [“Here I am, send me…”
Isaiah 6:8] and I am excited to face the next challenges of ministry that the Lord may call
I know the responsibility of being the Pastoral Chaplain of Chester County will be in good hands as I leave. Doug Burnette passed the mantle to Keith Brooks; Keith passed it on to me and now I pass it along to Heinrich Botes. I believe Heinrich is the one called to serve the inmates and staff of CCP for a time; “….for there is a time for every purpose under Heaven.” (Ecc. 3:1). I invite you all to attend our annual Onesimus Celebration Banquet on Friday April 6th at Mount Vernon Church and meet Heinrich personally. We can have a wonderful time of sharing what the last 27 years have been and pray for the many years to come. Thank you for your love and prayers for so many years!
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 New King James Version
“Who then is Paul (Peter Roomet), and who is
Apollos (Heinrich Botes), but ministers through whom
you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted,
Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then
neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters,
but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants
and he who waters are one, and each one will receive
his own reward according to his own labor.”
Peter Roomet, in the November 2017 issue of Jottings, very aptly compared the role of a chaplain with that of a lighthouse keeper. This role involves many risks, but especially demands faithfulness and vigilance. The mere fact that there is a lighthouse at a very dangerous point on the coastline implies the involvement of many other stakeholders such as the authorities and ultimately the taxpayers. To the casual and uninformed observer, investing in a lighthouse may seem like a waste of time, money and scarce resources. This type of critic will probably be unaware of the reason for the lighthouse’s existence…many shipwrecks and resulting loss of life in the past. They may also point to the lack of clear evidence that the lighthouse makes any difference and whether it is even at all necessary.
I am sure the reader can see where I’m heading. Chaplains are indeed called to shine a warning light to “passing ships” but also to offer warm hospitality and care to exhausted survivors who manage to make it to the shore alive after being shipwrecked…for whatever reason. Chaplains Jack Crans, Peter Roomet, Lillian Anthony, and others have been very faithful doing exactly this for many decades. I am honored…no, privileged…to join this incredible team and specifically to take over Peter’s watch.
The scripture quoted at the beginning is very applicable to the “changing of the guard” at Chester County Prison and alludes to the importance of teamwork (“working-the-net”, as Chaplain Crans is famous for saying) and the “unimportance” of the individuals who make
up the team. Ultimately, whatever we do should bring honor to God and not to any man…whether we are called inmate, chaplain, or supporter.
I can testify of God leading me ever so gently to this position. I am excited to serve in this position of assistant chaplain given the strength of a very unique and time-tested partnership among Onesimus Ministries, County Corrections Gospel Mission, Chester County Prison and the solid support of you (the “taxpayers” in my analogy!). With your
strategic investment of prayer, financial support and the grace of God, I dedicate myself gladly to fill the “big shoes” of Peter Roomet. He has been an official mentor during my chaplaincy studies as well as a very willing informal trainer during the past eight years.
On behalf of many ships and sailors who passed safely by (and through) your lighthouse,
Thank You, Peter! May God bless you during your well-deserved time of rest…ironically next to the shore!
The writer of book of Hebrews says in Chapter 13,
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow
That is what we do, especially on Monday nights.
We celebrate and thank God for this ministry being
available to inmates for 39 years. It began at Thanksgiving
I am very grateful to God for supplying the needed
volunteers throughout our history in CCP.
There is usually very good interest from the men who
attend. We receive many “Thank You’s” from them.
We are grateful to CCP Administration for the 75
minutes we have with each of the two groups.
Greetings Friends! I ask that you take the time to pause
& reflect (Selah) upon how our gracious and loving God has
enabled Onesimus for almost forty years to serve thousands
of men & women desperately in need of His forgiveness
Also, please remember our chaplains in your prayer life,
that they receive the spiritual strength and wisdom needed
to bring His Good News to those currently in CCP.
Thank you for providing financial support for Peter and
Lil as well as the means to purchase Bibles and hymnals for
Our annual banquet will be held April 6th at 6:00 p.m.
Mt. Vernon Christian Fellowship has graciously opened
their doors for this event. Please join us for a fellowship
meal followed by powerful testimonies from individuals
served by this ministry.
May His Peace be with you!
I’m wondering how many people
start out with having thoughts of doing
something completely different in life
then something happens and they are
thrown somewhat of a curveball.
We all have a choice to listen to the
Lord but sometimes we run away from his directions and I
wonder why they’re just spinning their wheels of life. It’s
what I may call “they’re just sitting instead of listening.”
The Lord does call us into excellence but so many times
we just settle for a mediocre life. Some people haven’t
completely failed but they’re not where they truly want to
be in life.
I felt this many years ago when I asked God, “what
or how are You going to use me in my life to serve You?”
Well, He has been using me for His glory for 20+ years at
Chester County Prison.
I have recently been working with a couple of Muslim
women. Praise Lord these two women are starting to see
how God can use them and not just living in a mediocre life.
The verses I have been using with these women are Proverbs
35 and 36. Trust in the Lord with your heart, and lean not
on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge
him, and he will make your paths straight. It’s been quite
interesting to see how God is speaking to these women and
using them to speak the Word of God in their housing units
at Chester County Prison.
I want to thank everyone for their prayers and their
support for Onesimus Ministries.
May God bless you all this holiday season.
There is good reason for all the friends of Onesimus
Ministries to offer a heart full of thanksgiving and praise for
God’s faithfulness for the past 39 years at Chester County
Prison. God gave Doug Burnette the desire to “go back to
prison” where he received so much help in his profound life
change. By his own admission Doug had an anger issue
which landed him in Chester County Prison back in 1966.
He attended the chapel services, listening to what the pastor
said on Tuesday and comparing it to what another pastor
said on Saturday. The pastors said, “You don’t have to live
like this. You can have new life in Christ.”
Doug came to faith in Jesus in his cell alone with God
and it changed his life. There was a lot of growing from
the initial acceptance of God’s forgiving grace and in 1978
Doug asked if he could “go back to prison” to help other
men who needed the same help he received. Thus began
Onesimus Ministries Inc.
The name Onesimus comes from the Bible. The Apostle
Paul came to know a run-away slave named Onesimus while
in prison and introduced him to the “same life changing
message of the gospel.” In Apostle Paul’s personal letter
to his friend Philemon he advocates for the young man who
had stolen from him, making a play on his name Onesimus
in v. 11. The name Onesimus means “useful.” Paul says,
“Formerly, he was ‘useless’ to you, but now has become
“useful” both to you and to me.” Paul was sending him
back to his community as a “useful” young man to those
he had wronged. Paul is sending him back “no longer as a
slave, but more than a slave, as a dear brother in the Lord.”
Thus the Onesimus Ministries has as a statement of
purpose – Onesimus Ministries exists for the purpose of
introducing prison inmates, ex-inmates, and their families
to the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ, as well
as supporting and assisting anyone in becoming faithful in
their daily walk as Christ’s Disciples.
I thank God for Doug and his request to “go back to
prison.” Doug was the first of three who have served as
chaplains at CCP:
Doug Burnette 1978-1985
Keith Brooks 1985-1991
Peter Roomet 1991-2018
Now it is time to pray for a replacement for Peter, who
will be retiring in the spring of 2018. Please join us in
prayer that God would supply, as he has always done, the
right person to continue this vital ministry to those who find
themselves at CCP. Thank you in advance.