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Nancy J. Schafer, Fargo, Published November 09 2013

Letter: Cass jail ministry inspires

On Oct. 22, more than 750 people gathered for the annual Dessert Social and Fundraiser to support the Jail Chaplains ministry. Centennial Hall in the Fargo Civic Center was full of friends interested to see how the ministry is repurposing the lives of men and women through faith-based programs provided in the Cass County Jail.

While serving their sentences, these returning citizens are given hope, forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. The Jail Chaplains organization was started 34 years ago by Pastor Curt Frankhauser when he volunteered to make death notifications with Cass County deputies along with ministering to the incarcerated in the Cass County Jail.

Since then, the ministry has grown to include Bible studies, life skills education, parenting programs, anger management, financial management, and drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation programs. There is a full-time male chaplain and a part-time female chaplain on staff and 25-plus volunteers who help inmates find their way back to productive lives in our community.

Sheriff Paul Laney told the audience at the Civic Center about the powerful impact the Jail Chaplains has on people as they try to rebuild their lives. Ten men and women who committed their lives to Christ through the influence of our ministry’s programs at the jail shared their testimonies about how the love and care of the Jail Chaplains led them to change their lives.

Some told their story and some stood silently on stage with a cardboard sign indicating their brokenness on one side and their redemption on the other. All were powerful examples of the saving grace of Jesus.

The Jail Chaplains has an annual budget of around $200,000 to provide the faith-based services that have become so important to our community, and more than 100 individuals and businesses partnered with us to sponsor the Dessert Social and Fundraiser. This special evening has become an annual celebration and an opportunity to connect with the wonderful donors and volunteers who make it all possible.

Schafer is board chairman, Jail Chaplains, and former North Dakota first lady.