Johnny Gonzales will bring his prison ministry back to Roswell Correctional Center this weekend with the help of about 100 volunteers.
Prison Door Ministries holds its annual tent ministry for the hundreds of inmates at the state correctional center, bringing a bit of light to the incarcerated.
“I have been doing this for over 20 years, and every year it is really special,” Gonzales said on Friday. “We try to reach out, heart to heart, with the people who are incarcerated here at the Roswell Correctional Center.”
Gonzales said this year’s event will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with an appreciation dinner for volunteers and inmate families at Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen in Roswell.
The ministry is a cooperation of many churches and about 100 individuals who work for two days under a great tent to see men come to the Lord, Gonzales said.
“We couldn’t do this without all the volunteers who come out year after year,” Gonzales said. “We share the Lord with the prisoners, bring them some cookies and Kool-Aid, and give them some fellowship.”
Gonzales said the people who are often forgotten in prison ministry are the families of the inmates, and that is why he hopes to include them in the appreciation dinner as well.
“These are just regular people, they go to work every day, and they are no different than you or me. They just happen to have a son, or a daughter, or a spouse who is in prison.”
The incarceration of an individual often times means hardships for the family, especially if that individual is the family’s breadwinner, Gonzales says.
“Sometimes, the families are the forgotten victims of crimes,” Gonzales said. “One of the goals of our ministry is to help the families as well as the inmates.”
“The New Mexico Corrections Department appreciates the hard work and dedication of our faithful volunteers who serve our incarcerated and those returning from prison to the community,” Homer Gonzales, New Mexico Corrections Department volunteer services and faith-based program coordinator, states on the corrections department website, corrections.state.nm.us.