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Tampa pastors minister to female inmates

Ministers Ernesto and Debra McCalla -- Recovery in Christ Ministry

Two local preachers spread God’s word beyond church walls.  Ministers Ernesto and Debra McCalla bring church to women inmates at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida.

Over 70 women from all walks of life and backgrounds are shown to love themselves and live free in spite of their circumstances.

“Many of them are from broken homes where physical and mental abuse is prevalent. We teach them how to live spiritually free, although they are physically incarcerated,” said Mrs. McCalla.

Many of them are from broken homes where physical and mental abuse is prevalent.

Recovery in Christ Ministry started in 2003.  Minister McCalla speaks of her husbands abuse back in 1991 which was the origin of the inmate ministry.

“Originally it was birthed from drugs and alcohol that my husband encountered in 1991. During this time and year he was outside of God’s will and plan for his life. Since 1991, being made free from those addictions, he decided to change his life and start his own prison ministry. He is now an over comer and has conquered life challenges that the devil set before him. In the process he realized that it was much better to be in the family of God.”

Chaplin Gary Shepherd of the Florida Dept. of Corrections speaks of the importance of prison ministry.

“These ministries are important because it helps them discover themselves,” said Shepherd.  “Men involved in religious activity are less inapt to return,” he said.

“I would venture to say that inmates for the most part have an identity problem and need answers to life’s three most important questions; Who am I, why am I here, and where am I going?  Salvation is an event that happens once in a person’s life becoming a man of God is the work of a lifetime,” said the prison Chaplin.

Minister McCalla believes she and her husband teach the women of Lowell Correctional how to identify with Christ.

“Our ministry teaches the Grace of God and their righteousness in Christ. Something that they never knew was their true identity. We also teach them that they are free in Christ and everything that Christ did for them is a finished work,” she said.

The McCalla’s don’t have a favorite scripture but says they refer often to the Book of Romans.

“The book of Romans is where Paul’s teachings of Grace is most prevalent. “

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.




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