Six months ago, a megachurch in Texas planted a church inside of a maximum security prison that houses 4,200 criminal offenders. Since then, they have seen incredible changes take place inside the prison including a recent baptism of rival gang members.
Last week the warden invited Gateway Church to baptize a handful of prisoners at Coffield Prison who are in administrative segregation, better known as solitary confinement.
According to Fox News, five gang or cartel members were baptized this past week after requesting to be made new in Jesus Christ.
Niles Holsinger, Gateway Coffield Prison campus pastor, told Fox News that the event was simply “mind-blowing.”
In order to baptize the five men, whom had their hands, feet, and waists shackled, the guards had to clear the prison because of security and safety concerns.
“They couldn’t lift their arms above their waist, each one has a guard on each arm, and wouldn’t leave their side until they were in the water,” Holsinger shared with Fox News.
They set three prisoners on one side, and two on the other. The men hailed from rival gangs, creating a safety concern for each of them, mostly because leaving a gang or cartel usually results in death.
Holsinger shared with Fox News that he had spoken to each prisoner one-on-one while they were in solitary confinement.
He shared that one prisoner told him: “I have tried it my way my whole life and it’s gotten me here. I want to try it God’s way…we’re going to come out of the water as new men.”
“These guys from two different gangs professed the same Lord and were baptized in the same water together and they walked out together, guards not holding onto their arms anymore because God had done something in their life,” Holsinger said.
Holsinger watched as each man, all of which were charged with heinous, violent crimes, shook at the fear of one another, but wanting to become new in their faith.
“These guys literally know they’re putting their life at risk and they’re doing it anyway,” Holsinger said.
“Never one time in my life have I felt like my decision to follow Christ has put me in danger or discomfort. For these guys to come in and they were so humble and gentle. To see them walking out trembling, they maybe have been afraid for their life not knowing what would happen, but they did not regret the decision they had just made. That was mind-blowing to me.”
In January, Gateway Church of Dallas, Texas, announced that they would open a new campus in the Coffield Unit in Anderson County, a maximum security prison 90 minutes outside of Dallas.
Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway shared that they had had their first service in November, with over 650 inmates in attendance.
“At Gateway Church, we’re all about people because God is all about people,” Morris, told Fox News following the public announcement. “Many of the men and women inside prison have been forgotten by society, but we want them to know we love them and God loves them, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Due to the success seen at Coffield Prison, Gateway plans to add six more campuses in prisons throughout Texas by 2020.