Finishing 2014 Strong.. ‘When I am weak, then I am strong.’

As the winter begins in earnest here in the Pacific Northwest, CR Inside is ‘warming itself’ with the appointment of Adam Rodriguez as the new National Director. Adam is identified as our ‘interim’ director until he’s officially named after the first of the year. When Hector Lozano stepped down last May, David Jones was named, but just as the weather changes these days, his appointment was pulled back in October. Like a ship without a rudder, nationally CRI has been wandering; several key leaders have jumped ship including our own Larry Courtain, stepping down as Oregon’s Mid-Valley rep in early November. Larry’s departure was due to his increasing responsibilities as an associate pastor at Morning Star, but none the less, many times when things seem to be in disarray, unnerving events multiply & cause increasing concern. Larry had provided for me personally, as well as for our Oregon team generally, a real key partner & advocate for our mission. Larry, & a few other CRI warriors, had started up the CR program in Mill Creek CI & OSP, & under Larry’s leadership Morning Star Church had opened its doors & supported CRI in many ways, including hosting several Quarterly meetings. Leaving our Mid-Valley post without local leadership was very troubling, as there are 4 prisons & 2 large jail populations in the greater Salem/Albany area. Many times, what I determine to be set-backs, negative events which will have negative consequences, however I’ve grown to understand that God is always working behind the scenes, in fact, He’s going out in front to set-up what needs to be done for His plans to unfold according to His will! It’s always so amazing to watch God as He’s building CRI in Oregon & now SW Washington too! And, if it’s true for us here in the rainy Pacific NW, it’s true for CRI nationally too. Adam’s taking over the reins at this point is a huge step forward, I have faith that he’ll make a very capable leader, taking CRI to the next levels of achievement & organization.

In fact, today Adam named Nicole Davis as Washington’s newest CRI rep, Nicole’s appointment brings with it more ‘warmth’ as the outside temperatures drop & the wind whips rain down on us. Yes, God’s game-plan is coming more clear every day & as we accept our weakness, His strength upholds us, carries us to higher levels, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2Cr12:9-10

We’ve been notified in the last few days that on January 8th our CR program will be launching inside the FDC at Sheridan! This is a process that was started back in June when Steve Hardgrove & myself met with Chaplain Kowalczyk, then months of searching to find a qualified team of CR volunteers. Matt Eggert, ML at COTH CR in McMinnville, was extremely supportive & helpful in finally putting this team together when we had almost lost hope. God is good.. as He provided what we needed when we needed it.

And lastly, but far from least, is the strength God allowed in us when we accepted our weakness & turned totally to Him in prayer for Scott Patterson being approved to lead CR inside Deer Ridge CI in Madras. Scott’s chances were not good, no.. non-existent. I had thought, when Scott explained his background to me, ‘this isn’t going to happen unless God intervenes’.. & that’s exactly what He did! Chaplain Woods at DRCI advocated for Scott & CR all the way to his superintendent & Scott was approved to serve at DRCI! We are humbled by our Lord’s care, comfort & strength in this matter; thank you Scott & Chaplain Tim Woods for following Christ, trusting in Him to prevail.

When we look to our Lord rather than ourselves, when no matter how how discouraging circumstances are we accept our inability to overcome them by ourselves, & when we trust in God for the outcomes of our efforts, accepting whatever they are, He delivers in His time, every time. Please take a few minutes every day to pray for us to trust God for our success as an individual & as a team this coming year. Pray that we will not be discouraged or distracted by people or events around us which seem to be evidence of failure but that we remember that God Himself has the final say in all. Pray that we remain true to the work Jesus Christ has called us to in this CR Inside ministry & find our strength solely in Him. 2015 is going to be an amazing year of growth for CRI here in the great NW.

By the way, that vacancy at Mid-Valley rep, stay tuned because God has raised up a terrific fix for us & we’ll be hearing some great news in January on what exactly it is!
Kent Whitaker, CRI Senior Rep, Oregon

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