Published July 10, 2017

Adding Value to People in Prison Produces Transformation

The Global Leadership Summit believes everyone has influence no matter where they lead. You could be CEO of a major corporation, a pastor in a small rural town, a teacher, a politician, a student, a parent or even a prisoner.

The staff at Willow Creek Association is committed to providing access to leadership tools to anyone who wants to improve their leadership skills to change their own spheres of influence wherever they may be—even in prison.

The impact of the GLS in the prison system is inspiring!

In 2017, the GLS is on track to be in 60 prisons, up from 11 prisons in 2015. None of this would be possible without the commitment of the many prison chaplains, wardens, volunteers and donors who’ve helped make this a reality.

But it all starts with a spark of inspiration.

For Steve Ruby, Prison Chaplain at Joseph Harp Correctional, and the staff at The Crossing Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the spark ignited after watching Warden Burl Cain’s Grander Vision segment during the GLS in 2015.

“Warden Cain talked about the things they were doing to change the culture of the prison, and I felt a stirring to pursue getting the GLS at Joseph Harp Correctional,” Steve shares. “Through interaction with some of the inmate leaders and a couple of our most trusted volunteers, we started dreaming and strategizing how this might work.

“And when The Crossings Church signed on to support it financially, it made ‘selling’ it to the Warden much easier. With any new concept in corrections, it takes time to get buy-in, but when we stressed the value to the men who would attend, and the ripple effect on the facility that could result from this experience, there was little pushback.”

The GLS within the prison reiterates what is already on Steve’s heart:

Adding value to people allows for true transformation.

“I am convinced there is a leader inside all of us,” said Steve. “We need people who believe in a person enough to help them see their potential and be willing to provide resources to assist them in that pursuit.”

During the GLS, John Maxwell stressed adding value to people, and this really struck a chord with Steve and what he’s felt in his heart for a long time while serving in prison ministry,

“In the context in which I serve, I find that a small percentage of the men have never had anyone who believed in them. They long for a sense of significance and a need for value. When we add value to people, it gives these men hope that their future can be different from their past.

“I have seen genuine transformations over the years and know that what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is true. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

It is true in my own life, and I have seen it repeated in ministry over the years, and most recently, in the prison system.”

Adding value to people breaks down stereotypes.

“Not all ‘criminals’ are bad, evil people,” Steve explains. “We are the product of our choices and decisions, no doubt, but we should not be defined by a poor choice and a bad decision that may have been part of the environment we were brought up in. This is not to excuse the choices and decisions that land someone in prison, but we all must realize that ‘there go I, but by the grace of God.’”

Steve Ruby knows that when you add value to people, invest in them and give them the opportunity to experience spiritual breakthroughs, transformation is possible.

“My ‘big hairy audacious goal’ is to see a spiritual breakthrough in the prison, resulting in a breakdown of the stereotypical perception of inmates who embrace faith in Christ,” Steve said. “My hope is their embrace of faith and a relationship with Jesus would be truly authentic, transforming the entire culture of the prison system.”

The ripple effect of the GLS.

The GLS was well received by all who attended at Joseph Harp Correction. “There has been an ongoing ‘buzz’ even after almost a year since the last one!” Steve exclaims. “There is growing excitement about the event this year too.

“The GLS is an opportunity that encourages those who are often forgotten in society. In an environment like prison, they need hope and alternatives for how to live, and the GLS offers both.

“It has been a blessing to see men step up and take ownership of the leadership principles learned at the GLS. The monthly follow-ups have solidified and encouraged the men to apply what was heard in the everyday encounters they have in a variety of situations at the facility. The men who attended continue to demonstrate a thirst to learn and grow in their sphere of influence.”

The GLS is not just an event. It’s a movement.

“I am grateful to have the privilege of playing a small part in enriching the lives of inmates through what is more than an event. It’s a movement that is impacting numbers of people that only eternity will fully reveal. My vision is to see this spiritual breakthrough foster and further a breakout of God’s activity across the entire state and nation with events like the Summit serving as a catalyst.

“Thanks to  the team at Willow who have a heart to inspire and challenge people from all walks of life to be better and do better in life and leadership. Leadership is influence.”


About the Author
Global Leadership Network

Global Leadership Network

GLN Staff Writer

The Global Leadership Network is a community committed to learning from each other and using our influence to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. No matter where your influence is, when you commit to grow your leadership, everyone around you wins—businesses work for good, communities are transformed and churches thrive! Both global and diverse, our network includes partners in 1,400+ cities and 135+ countries. We are committed to deliver fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content both at The Global Leadership Summit, and year-round through our digital platforms.

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