7 Baptisms at Oklahoma Penitentiary
For around 15 years, Floyd Thornton and his team of volunteers have been holding weekly meetings at Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, Oklahoma. This began with a rather miraculous invitation extended to Thornton by the chaplain. The everlasting gospel with 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 is giving a doctrinal sermon, and sometimes various means are used as Bible studies in groups ranging from 2-3 up to an average of about 20 people. Over this time, there have been periods of baptisms, and periods that didn’t seem so productive, but always expressions of great interest and many mailed Bible studies getting requested. Current volunteers include Ernest Rosa, and the Sandviks along with Chris Clayton, his wife Julie, and friend Julia. Chris shares this experience from the past year:
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 them and after the last study, I promised them I would give them all their own copies of the study. 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 requested baptism. Praise God, we give Him all the Glory. What a privilege to work in the prison ministry field.
By Chris Clayton & Floyd Thornton
About the Authors: Floyd Thornton is a passionate and dedicated man who has been serving in prison ministry for over 30 years. He is currently the Director of the Oklahoma Conference Prison Ministry and resides in Shawnee Oklahoma with his wife of 573 months (48 Years). He has a passion for ministering to men who are incarcerated, and he believes that everyone needs to know of the power of Christ to change lives! Floyd's nursing career gave him a deep understanding of the loneliness, worthlessness, and hopelessness that many incarcerated people feel. Because so many of those incarcerated have never felt the love of a family or of God, he started on a mission to share this love with those he meets! Through Bible study, sermons, prayer, and music, Floyd shares the Love of God with inmates every chance he gets. He often brings his accordion to prison, and the inmates enjoy singing along with him. In addition to his prison ministry, Floyd is also an elder at Coalgate Adventist Church and is currently the Native American Ministries leader there. He has also worked as a Literature Evangelist, a Lay Pastor, and with Christian Record Braille.
Chris Clayton has lived in the Ardmore area for 21 years and counting. He and his wife have been married for 36 years and enjoy riding horses and being outside camping. In 1998 Clayotn and his wife were introduced to prison ministry in Texas. They started by holding Sabbath Services for inmates at the Federal Medical Center & the state prison in Bridgeport Texas. When they moved to Oklahoma, they continued with their work holding mid-week bible studies. They currently volunteer at the Mack Alford Correctional Center and Joseph Harp Lexington sharing the gospel message with the people they meet there.