Incredible things have happened since Gateway Church opened a campus inside the state’s largest maximum-security prison only 6 months ago. However, what happened in the prison last week was a first in the maximum prison’s history! Five rival gang members risked their lives to get baptized together!
The warden at Coffield Unit in Anderson County which holds about 4,200 criminal offenders, invited Gateway Church to baptize the inmates who were rival gang members in solitary confinement, where they spend 23 hours daily behind heavy steel doors, because of how dangerous they are.
In a Facebook video , Niles Holsinger, the Gateway Coffield Prison campus pastor said, “Yesterday at our Coffield campus, we were able to do something that no church has ever been able to do in the history of this prison. And that is water baptize men from what’s called administrative segregation, a section of the prison that has the most violent felons, violent inmates of the whole prison.”
Five of the men, confirmed gang and cartel members, were escorted into the gymnasium, shackled hand and foot and around the waist. The guards also had to clear the prison because of safety concerns.
Three of the men were placed on one side, while the other two stood on the other side. A guard explained to the pastor that it was because they were from rival gangs and the only way for them to leave the gangs or cartels is death.
Pastor Holsinger spoke to each of the guys in solitary confinement. They all had a violent history.
“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.” one of the prisoners told the pastor.
All the men were baptized, one after the other and were ready to start a new life in Christ. “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.” Pastor Holsinger said.
But it was what happened after the baptism, that had Pastor Holsinger shocked. All the five inmates were trembling in fear.
“These guys literally know they’re putting their life at risk and they’re doing it anyway. 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 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.” The pastor said.
14 other prisoners in solitary confinement will be baptized in July. The church in partnership with KCBI, a local radio station, are also planning on getting thousands of Bibles for the inmates.
The Gateway Church further plans to open 6 more prison campuses throughout Texas by the start of 2020.