The Blount County Sheriff’s Office continues to offer voluntary baptisms to inmates as a way for them to help turn their lives around, this time with a group of female inmates baptized for the first time under their program.
Yellowhammer News in June reported on 24 male inmates being baptized at the Blount County Jail through a partnership with Redeemed Ministries, which is run by a former convict who found faith and turned away from a life of crime.
Sheriff Mark Moon at that time explained the thought process behind the program, “This is who I was before I met Jesus Christ, and now, I’m dead and I’m buried. My old self is gone, and I’m resurrected new. And I’m somebody totally different in Jesus.”
Now, Moon has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that 16 female inmates chose to be baptized at the county jail on Monday through this same program.
This latest round of baptisms was first reported by WBRC.
No public funds are given to Redeemed Ministries for the program, which is completely voluntary for inmates to participate in.
Speaking to Yellowhammer News on Thursday, Moon said ultimately he wants this to help end the “revolving door” of the same people cyclically coming in and out of the county jail.
“If we can help them change their motives by changing their heart, getting their life right, getting their families back together — if we can get families back together then we can really make a difference in communities,” the sheriff outlined. “And with the epidemic that’s going on in our country with opioid abuse, drug abuse, I believe that if you change people’s hearts, you change their motivations, you change their desires, then you can start seeing them get their families back together — and they can become positive contributors to society instead of just continually being in and out of jail.”
“I truly want people to make a difference and to make good choices,” he stressed. “I don’t want people in my jail.”
Also a pastor, Moon explained that helping inmates and others in need certainly has biblical roots.
“Jesus even said, ‘Because you fed me when I was hungry, because you clothed me when I was naked, because you visited with me when I was in sick in the hospital or in prison, then you’re blessed.’ If we can reach out to the ones that… our world sees as unlovable and unreachable, if we can reach them and change them — man, what a difference we can make,” he said.
Moon advised that he was was not able to attend the baptisms of the male inmates in June, since he was preaching in a revival that day. However, he got to witness Monday’s baptisms and was overwhelmed with what he experienced.
“It was so powerful… It was so powerful, the Holy Spirit was just really thick and I was crying like a baby, I’m not going to lie,” Moon told Yellowhammer News. “It was fantastic. I’m so thankful for what God’s doing.”
He added that there will be some people skeptical that all of the inmates are getting baptized for the “right” reasons. However, Moon emphasized that just one inmate truly accepting Jesus Christ and turning their life around makes it well worth it.
“We’ve got to get them the Word, we’ve got to get them the Gospel,” Moon concluded. “If they make true conversions, true changes … it’s a success in the eye of the Lord, and that’s what we want to do. We want to please God with what we do, not man.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn