Spreading Faith Within Prison Walls
By Jeff Bossert
In just over two weeks, Illinois’ only maximum-security female correctional center will close its doors. But David Taylor, who volunteers at the Dwight Correctional Center, plans to keep counseling those inmates, and many more.
For more than a decade, Taylor has dedicated his time to Faith, Hope, and Love in Christ Ministries of Peoria. The retired printing press operator has counseled inmates in four prisons, including Dwight, which is slated to shut down March 31.
Taylor said it started when a pastor saw qualities in him that he didn’t see in himself.
He's provided faith-based counseling at the Sheridan, Stateville, Pontiac, and Dwight Correctional Centers, and expects to extend those services to Logan Correctional Center once the inmates from Dwight are fully integrated there.
He said it started with a religious retreat program called 'Walk to Emmaus', and was approached by a pastor there named Richard Jumper.
"He called me one time and he says 'Dave, I'd like you to be on a retreat team," he said. "I said, let me think about and let me pray over it. And he says 'well, I already have, and when I went into the mail the next day, there was the information he had for me. I did it, and that's what I felt the Lord wanted me to do."
That was in 1998, and Taylor has been counseling ever since, more so since his retirement from RR Donnelley in Dwight.
"I don't know what (Jumper) saw in me," he said. "I believe that God wouldn't ask me to do anything to fail. So evidently, if I do nothing more than show his love to the people incarcerated, and sometimes I say things, and I don't remember what I say, and I guy says 'thank you, I really needed to hear that. It's hard to describe to someone who has never been in that situation."