John Lewis has devoted more than 30 years of his life to helping people with developmental disabilities and mental health and substance abuse challenges. After proving to be a faithful asset as a volunteer at the Charles County Detention Center, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office welcomes him as the jail’s newest chaplain.
“John was selected because as a volunteer here, he has offered a positive influence in the lives of the inmates,” said Sgt. Tracy Williams, supervisor of the Classification and Treatment Unit. “We are excited about this opportunity because of the strong connections John has in the community, which will assist us in treating inmates while they are here and caring for them upon release back into the community.”
Lewis is the founder of Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry, Inc., and as the Charles County Detention Center’s full-time chaplain, he will oversee all religious activity there and will also focus on providing life skills to inmates to help them transition back into the community upon their release. His ministry will offer Bible studies and one-on-one sessions with inmates. He also plans to reach out to inmates’ families, as well as to victims as part of the healing process for the community.
There are currently more than 50 program volunteers and facilitators at the Detention Center, half of whom provide religious services. Lewis has long been one himself, volunteering to host up to five Bible studies a week. He hopes to recruit more volunteers willing to teach skills to inmates like financial planning, reading, as well as religion. Additionally, he wants to work with employers who will hire ex-offenders.
“Every church, organization and business in this community is welcome to get involved with this ministry,” Lewis said. “You don’t need anything other than a willing heart.”
Lewis has been involved with prison ministries for 10 years. He has been employed by the Center for Abused Persons, United Cerebral Palsy, Vesta Inc., and the Spring Dell Center. He has administered services as an independent provider for the Charles County Health Department, providing respite care for individuals with disabilities. He is also a spiritual volunteer at the Robert J. Fuller Transitional House and continues to assist as needed in the drug and alcohol recovery ministry at Choose Life Church Ministries. “When the church started the recovery group, I got to use all the skills I had acquired over the years to show the love of the Lord to people who were in need of help,” said Lewis said. “The church’s efforts have helped people communitywide.”
Lewis is excited about the new opportunity to serve his community and to provide spiritual guidance to the inmates at the Charles County Detention Center. “I would like to thank God, my wife, Alesia, my family, my church and Pastor John H. Howie and Reverend Patricia W. Howie, who are also volunteers at the Detention Center,” Lewis said. Lewis was raised in Washington, D.C., and has lived in Charles County for the last decade. He is an ordained, licensed and registered chaplain and belongs to a professional chaplains association.
“I am grateful to Sheriff Coffey, [Corrections Division Commander] Capt. Pam Dottellis and Sgt. Williams for allowing me the opportunity to serve as the chaplain of the Charles County Detention Center,” Lewis said.
Anyone who wishes to assist with the spiritual or physical support of Point of Change Jail and Street Ministry, Inc., may call 301-609-5917 or may send donations to PO Box 1509, La Plata, MD 20646. F