Baptisms at Oklahoma Penitentiary

June 30, 2023

STRINGTOWN, OKLA. – For about 15 years, Floyd Thornton and his team of volunteers have been holding weekly meetings at Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, Okla. This began with a rather miraculous invitation extended to Thornton by the chaplain. The everlasting gospel, including the three angels’ messages, gets shared in a variety of ways depending on the particular individual leading out and the observed or expressed needs among the incarcerated attendees. Sometimes the leader gives a doctrinal sermon, and sometimes various means are used as Bible studies in groups ranging from two to three, up to an average of about 20 people. Over the years there have been periods of baptisms, and periods that didn’t seem so productive, but there have always been expressions of great interest and requests for Bible studies by mail. Current volunteers include Ernest Rosa and the Sandviks, along with Chris Clayton, his wife, Julie, and friend, Julia. 

Chris shares this experience, “At the beginning of 2022, I spoke with one of the regular attending inmates about having an evangelistic meeting. We were getting some new inmates in the worship service, and I wanted them to know more about what Seventh-day Adventists believe. He thought it was a great idea, so I started the “Landmarks of Prophecy” Bible studies, giving two studies a month for a year (supplemented by doctrinal meetings during alternate weeks by other team members). Before long, there were on average 25 men showing up on Sabbath to hear the studies. It took a year, but we got through the studies, and after the last study, I had promised them I would give them all their own copies of the studies. Then they could use them to study the topics again and give their own studies to someone else. On the next available Sabbath, I used about two minutes per topic to review and had a sermon on choosing either Jesus or Barabbas. Afterward, I appealed to the men to follow Jesus and be baptized. Eight men responded and five were baptized into the Church. I was doing the same in the minimum security facility, and one was baptized into the Church there. Later, another person was baptized, and others have requested baptism. Praise God, we give Him all the Glory. What a privilege to work in the prison ministry field.”

By Chris Clayton and Floyd Thornton