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Of Character: God had a plan for Greg Wall to be involved with a ministry to inmates, he believes

Greg Wall
Greg Wall

Jail is not somewhere most people go willingly.

Even as a volunteer, that was the case for Greg Wall.

The longtime Shawnee resident had been invited to just go along with members of his church’s chaplain team to minister to inmates. Wall had his mind made up, he’d go once and that would be all.

“I went with a predetermined mindset that the jail ministry wouldn’t be for me,” said Wall, 63. “I didn’t have a heart for criminals.

“The day I went, I was teamed up with David Hornsby, who is now deceased. He was in poor health at the time, barely able to walk under his own power and undergoing dialysis. That day he spoke about the Parable of the Lost Son, and eight inmates accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

That day also changed Wall’s life. He knew then that the jail ministry was something he had to do. Today, Wall teams up with “an 84-year-old former convict who has had his life changed by Christ.”

“The inmates really identify with him,” Wall said. “He isn’t politically correct, probably steps on a lot of toes, but the inmates seem to truly respect him for his straightforward approach.”

Wall has given of his time to his church and community for many years. He has taught Sunday school at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee for more than 17 years.

Then about four years ago, he joined Restoration Chaplaincy and that led him to the jail ministry.

“We have a very active ministry at the Pottawatomie Safety Center where we visit personally with inmates and bring the encouragement and hope of God’s Word,” he said. “I visit the inmates weekly on Thursday and spend about two hours each week.”

He is also a member of The Gideons International. This organization supplies the Bibles given to the inmates through Restoration Chaplaincy.

In the Shawnee community, Wall has been a member of the Shawnee Kiwanis Club since 1979 and served as president in 1989. Before joining Kiwanis, he was a member of the Shawnee Jaycees for two years. Wall owns Multi County Insurance Center.

“I would be remiss not to say that I believe that there are many people doing much more than I am doing,” he said. “I hope that someone reading this will not focus on anything that I have done but rather focus on what they can do.”

That would include helping in areas a person might see themselves as a good volunteer fit and areas they were once inclined to avoid.

“Today, I am primarily focused on my role of teacher at Immanuel Baptist Church and as a chaplain,” he said. “Teaching has had cumulative effects. The longer you teach, the more knowledge and experience you gain. I think a challenge today is to make God’s Word come alive, to make it applicable in our lives not just have a history lesson. I enjoy using real-life examples and current events that have a spiritual application.

“Inmates have more problems than most people. Most of them accept that the decisions they made are what led them to criminal charges and subsequent convictions. How can they find hope when looking at a 5- to 10- to 20-year sentence or even a life sentence?”

Wall said that if he brings anything to the inmates, “it is sharing with them that God loves them and has a plan for them.”

He said they try to teach these inmates Godly principles to help them starting now and hopefully continuing when they get out of prison.

“Many of the inmates are repeat offenders who continue to make poor choices,” Wall said. “That part of the chaplaincy is frustrating and disappointing. I have learned that it isn’t only inmates that have destructive habits in their lives. I know that for everyone concerned, their families, their employers, their hometown and their state, it is worth the effort to try and make a difference.”

Wall believes that when people put God’s will at the center of their lives, “doing what He leads us to do, we will receive a satisfaction greater than any award or recognition can provide.”

Wall said, “One of our Restoration Chaplaincy members was eating at a restaurant in Oklahoma City when the mother of a former inmate came over to tell how her son had totally changed and that our ministry was responsible for saving his life.”

Bryan Painter

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