A Sound Investment – Heinrich Botes

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!

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Monday Night Prison Fellowship – Jim Kreider

The writer of book of Hebrews says in Chapter 13,
verse 3A:
“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
time 1978.
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.

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From the Treasurer, November 2017 – Roy Fite

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
and grace.
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
the chapel.
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!

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Expecting God’s Best and Not Settling for Less – Chaplain Lil

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.

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It’s Time to Ask God for the Next Chaplain – Vernon Myers

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.”
v. 16
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.

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The Lighthouse Keeper is Moving On – Chaplain Peter

The lighthouse is a tall permanent tower or other structure
with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent
signal; a signal for guiding navigators of seafaring vessels
around dangerous rocky shores or to the entrance of a safe
harbor. Prior to electricity the light of the lighthouse was
illuminated by an oil lamp magnified by a Fresno Lens. Without fuel the fire
of the lamp would not burn. But without the lighthouse keeper the fuel would
never make it to the lamp. Every day the keeper would have to tend the lamp
by carrying enough fuel up the tower for the lamp to burn all through the night
as well as tend to trimming the wick and keeping the lens as clean as possible.
Every day no matter what the conditions would be, the keeper would climb 217
steps to tend to his duties so the light would shine. This all-important structure
has for years been the saving grace of many a sailor.
What of prisons and lighthouses, keepers and chaplains? There is a great
similarity among them all. One may not think of a prison as a lighthouse yet it
can so be compared. Some people get off the correct path of life or have no clue
which way to go at all. These folks need direction to a safe harbor or guidance
to avoid the rocky shoals of life (Deut. 11:26-28). Wrong choices have men and
women end up incarcerated to protect society from the criminals.
For the inmate, the lighthouse did not keep them from the rocky shore, but
in turn, became a beacon of hope to a safe harbor. Now the inmates (fellow
human beings) are now then protected from society to gain strength and proper
bearing of direction. Ultimately the direction is Jesus who is the Light of the
World (John 8:12). Prison brought a stop to the insanity and had them in a place
where they received the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The Chaplain, lighthouse keeper if you would, is instrumental in making
the introduction between Jesus and the inmate. As a Chaplain at Chester County
Prison, I have had many conversations with inmates who have professed that
going to prison was what saved their lives. Praise God for the safe harbor and a
caring soul entrusted with keeping the fire in the lamp fueled and burning.
Each day the Chaplain has a responsibility to tend to the spiritual needs of
the prison population as varied the tasks may be. Fuel for the Spiritual Lamp is
supplied each day in the form of prayer, Bibles, relevant reading material and
Bible studies. All of this could be referred to as the oil for the lamps lovingly
supplied by the “keeper.”
Every day the Chaplain is called upon to minister to the needs of a “lost
sailor.” The counseling that occurs comes from the firm foundation of the Word
of God dispensed by one of Spirit and experience (i.e. I was a lost and floundering
inmate at one time who was touched by the love and care of Chaplain Keith
I haven’t climbed 217 steps each day to tend the lamp, but
I have driven 38 miles round trip. This amounts to 238,140
miles over 27 years. Each day over the same amount of
years, time invested has amounted to approximately 49,248
hours of tending the lamp of Chester County Prison. The
lamp has not gone out and continues to burn bright.
Ministering to the inmates has been and is a privilege
and a joy but just as a lighthouse keeper ages and may be
called to a new direction of occupation so, too, have I.
Come April of 2018 I will not be retiring, but re-firing, as
my mentor Keith would say. My wife, Theresa and I will be
moving to southern Delaware to experience the next chapter
of life together that the Lord has in store for us. Surely I
will be involved in ministry of the Lord’s calling in some
way, for when you work for God you do not retire until you
die. How can one ever stop working for and through God?
The past 27 years as a Chaplain at CCP has been a great
joy and blessing that has changed and developed my life
to this very moment. I am and will be eternally grateful to
the Board Members of Onesimus Ministries for their love,
prayers and support through all of my years of service to the
inmates of Chester County Prison. I am also thankful for the
support of all of the churches, individuals and organizations
who have contributed prayers and finances to Onesimus
Ministries for my support.
Please know that this is not the end of Onesimus
Ministries Chaplaincy at Chester County Prison. Lillian
Anthony is still in the trenches and Onesimus Ministries
will be supporting another chaplain to follow me in service
to the needs of the inmates. Support is needed not only to
continue but to increase so that more of the vision of the
ministry can be fulfilled.
April is not so far away and it is with great sorrow that
I will leave the service of Onesimus Ministries in Chester
County Prison. I also have a joyful heart knowing that the
ministry I have served will continue and become even more
effective in the years to come helping to “save” the lost
people adrift on the sea of life.

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From The Treasurer, April 2017 – Roy Fite

Dear Friends, We greatly need your prayers and support in order for this Ministry to continue to meet the financial commitment to our Chaplains. In 2016 we received almost
$9,000 less than the amount of support needed for Peter & Lil. At this writing we have less than two weeks of support at hand and are many weeks away from our Annual Spring  Banquet. I pray that you will be able to join us on April 7th at Mt. Vernon Christian Church to celebrate Peter & Lil as well as 38 years of prison ministry at CCP! Stay ever so faithful knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered!

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Prison Fellowship – Jim Kreider

We continue to be grateful for the privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus in Chester County Prison on Monday evenings. Our total attendance of the two services varies from thirty to forty. We have prayer time with the men, sing together, share testimonies and a message from the Bible. Each service lasts about 90 minutes.


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Learning to Wait upon the Lord – Chaplain Lil

Isaiah 40:31 For those who wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.
In this passage of Scripture, which I am sure everyone is familiar with, we are given the specific instruction to WAIT. Waiting is difficult for many of us. We live in an instant society. When we wait and seek God’s will, we begin to see His plan, we are renewed, and when we move forward God gives us the strength to move onward and upward. Many of the women have testified of this at CCP. They talk about how after trying the things of the
world, being locked up in a cell, and stripped of all their worldly possessions all there is is time to wait. God uses this time to build, bless, equip and strengthen us so that when
we are ready, we soar like eagles. Will you wait on the Lord for His best in your life?
Thank you for your financial and prayer support.

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Ground Zero – Chaplain Peter

Ground zero, words that conjure up visions of destruction, mayhem and death for many individuals. You may first think of 9-11 in New York or the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. Maybe you think of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic or Ebola. Perhaps on a smaller scale yet none the less tragic the massacre of innocent children in an Amish school house in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania. Have you ever considered prison as ground zero? I would encourage you to view prison as ground zero in a positive way as opposed to a preconceived negative. Ground zero generally means the center or source of a dramatic occurrence causing destruction but prison can have just the opposite effect.

What if? Just as a seed that is planted in the ground must die to then grow into a productive plant so to a person who is “planted” in prison can die to self and then grow to be a productive citizen upon release. Prison more often than not is the cataclysmic outcome of a sinful and destructive way of thinking. The beginning of a new way of thinking that leads to a new way of living in turn begins at this new zero called prison.

When a person is saved and then becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), they are similar to the start of new plans for a new building or life that would not have been built without an initial death or destruction. The plans are not to make things just as they were before, but to eliminate that which was faulty or wrong and replace it with a new and improved model.

I can relate to Paul as a chaplain/pastor when he wrote to the church of Corinth about building on a foundation of Christ. As an expert builder (26 years), I lay a firm foundation each day inside the walls of Chester County Prison (1 Cor. 3:10-12) yet the responsibility of building upon it still rests on the inmate. The inmates (New Creations in Christ) need nurturing, teaching and encouragement to succeed in the new life that can start at Ground Zero.

Each man’s work will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Chaplains are the emergency response team charged with going into the fire and try to help save the lives of those who are going down in flames. “Anything that can withstand the fire must be put through the fire” (Numbers 31:22-23). This is not a maybe, but a when that happens and an offender is released back into society. We are striving for all individuals who are released from prison to be able to continue to grow as viable additions to your neighborhoods.

To know what chaplains do as first responders is only a phone call or email away: 610-932-4429 for our chairman of the board or roomet@verizon.net for me. I would very much like to share with you and your fellowship or organization the vital role we play in this drama of life. Please extend an invitation so we can schedule a meeting or service to explain what we do and how vital your support is in this vital mission field.

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