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Veteran offers prison ministry, forgiveness to jail inmates

Posted at 4:28 PM, May 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-02 23:40:50-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Inside the Nueces County jail, hope is probably the last thing you will find behind bars.

Yet, every Monday, Navy veteran Terry Shannon makes it his mission to offer unconditional love and forgiveness to inmates waiting on their legal fate.

“We're here to bring the word of God to you,’ Shannon told a dozen inmates who recently met inside a grim-looking jail call pod about the size of a racquet ball court. “The Bible is full of Scripture that says take care of the guy in prison.”

Shannon opens each meeting with a prayer, “Thank you for this time together… and all his men said … Amen,’

“It's a call. Not everybody is called to be in the military. Not everybody is called to come into a jail,” said Shannon.

 This Bible study is more of a give and take lesson plan. Mostly listening and opening up to each other. It’s also a chance to find spiritual freedom behind bars.

 “To them, it's an hour of oasis. It's an hour to get away from the games that are played in there to come in here to just be with God,” said Shannon. There's people in the free world (outside of prison) in more bondage than you (inmates).”

Shannon first started prison ministry nine years ago at the William G. McConnell Unit, a state prison in Beeville. A friend asked him not to preach, but to use the words of the Gospel to change lives.

Shannon has already seen proof of that when he runs into prisoners after their release.

“To see them out there … ‘Man, I'm working fulltime’ …’I'm going to church. I'm doing this. I'm doing that.’ To see what these guys are capable of doing, they just made a bad decision,” said Shannon.

Shannon believes that a bad decision is something he shares with those he ministers at the jail, with one exception; he didn’t get caught.

Every one of us is one mistake away from being incarcerated. And so, it's my opportunity to come in here and love on them, because it's a dark world,” said Shannon.

Shannon believes that dark world transforms into light when the inmates accept Jesus Christ,

Inmates James and Darrell have attended the prayer meeting for weeks now. They are firm believers.

“He does generally care about the guys in here,” said Darrell. (The prayer sessions) got me to stop thinking of alcohol and thinking more about God.”

“Terry is an amazing man,” said James. When he walks in, it’s like the presence of God.”

“I never met a prisoner that I didn’t love,” Shannon said tearing up. “For them (James and Darrell) to say that is … I'll be back next Monday for sure.”

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