According to the National Institute of Corrections, there are more than 27,000 inmates incarcerated in Oklahoma. If not directly affected, it can be easy to forget this staggering number. But for more than a decade, one local man could not.
John Plummer, now 90-years young, says that being involved in ministry has simply been a way of life for him. He served in Alva in prison ministry for 14 years alongside pastors and other people like himself with a desire to help those who are often forgotten.
Plummer said that it all began one night at a Bible study he attended with his wife. His pastor pulled him aside and asked him if he would like to begin working with inmates and sharing his faith with them.
“My wife wasn’t sure about it,” Plummer said, “She told me, ‘You’re getting carried away.’ ”
Shortly after, he paid a visit to a local jail with a friend who had already been involved in the ministry. From that day on, Plummer knew he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself.
He learned rules and regulations to keep him and the inmates safe while working in prisons. It took five days to learn all he needed to know to work with Kairos Prison Ministry, a Christian organization that reaches out to inmates in 35 states and nine countries including Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Nicaragua, Peru and South Africa.
“We began with prayer for each other and good fellowship,” Plummer said, “By the end of the meeting, we really felt we knew each other.”
After training, it was time to meet with the inmates. Two leaders like Plummer and a pastor met with five inmates. Seven small groups like this met together to discuss their pasts, faith and hopes for the future.
At the end of each session, the men were encouraged to communicate their thoughts on the discussion.
Sessions like these went on for an entire weekend. It took 40 men to lead and organize these events. Plummer participated in 17 over those 14 years, and had the privilege to lead one.
When asked if he ever felt afraid walking into a maximum security prison, it was no surprise that Plummer replied that he had not.
“These men had horrific pasts,” Plummer said, “They just needed guidance and love, and didn’t get it.”
On Sunday night, the final day of their ministry event, each man was given the opportunity to talk with the entire group of participants about his past and what he hoped to gain in the future.
Though Plummer is no longer involved in prison ministry, he was eager to encourage those seeking to make a difference.
Plummer says that he has been blessed in his 90 years to see his two great-grandchildren born, to be involved in his church, and attend ballroom dancing classes.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.