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Lawyer or Prison Minister?

Friday, June 14, 2019

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“I'm looking forward to influencing others in a positive way. My message is you can do anything if you just put your mind to it.” – Justin Bieber, pop vocalist and reportedly, a new believer in Jesus Christ

Everyone is influenced by someone at one stage or their life or another. Often, it is our parents, our teachers, our coaches, and our friends who fill that role.

For me, in addition to my mom and dad, one of my earliest influencers was my Uncle Wayne. He loved sports – and baseball in particular – which led to numerous conversations about our “National Pastime”. During my junior year of high school, we had the following talk…

Uncle Wayne: “What are your plans for college?”
Dale: “I plan to major in political science and then go to law school.”
Uncle Wayne: “Did you know that you can major in Sports Administration these days?”

And just like that, my focus – and my life’s direction – changed from being a Poly-Sci major at Rutgers University to an Athletic Administration major at St. John’s University.

In April of the following year, my brother Gary shared the gospel with me and the rest of my family. God’s Spirit was moving, and I trusted Christ as my Savior that day. I guess that makes Gary Influencer #2.

After college, I was working as the recreation director at a retirement community in New Jersey. Knowing that it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I applied for a position with a Christian realtor named Mike. However, throughout the interview, all I could talk about was the athletic prison ministry I had recently started and how exciting it was to see inmates come to Christ.

“Dale, we’re both wasting our time here,” Mike said. “God is obviously calling you into full-time prison ministry and you need to follow His leading.”

And so, I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the past 33 years, I have been privileged to minister to an estimated 500,000 inmates in more than 500 different prisons in three different countries. All because God used Uncle Wayne to change my major, Gary to lead me to Christ, and Mike to urge me to answer God’s call.

Who has – or is – influencing you? More importantly, who are you influencing for the cause of Christ?

“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” John 1:40-42 (NKJV)

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