The Ministry Church
Dr. Paul & Jeri
When Dr. Paul Carlin was federal prisoner number 18349-149, the other inmates called him "the main man." Today, as he heads one of the most successful para-church prison ministries in the country, the prisoners call him "the convict´s preacher." Carlin is President of The Ministry Church, a 501(c) 3, faith-based, Biblical, Christ-centered non-profit organization, headquartered in Crockett, Texas. He is also pastor of the historic, 132 year old Shady Grove Baptist Church located 10 miles East of Crockett on Hwy 287.
He and his wife, Jeri, have been in prison ministry for 33 years. Retired Texas prison chaplain John Larson once introduced Carlin as "the Apostle Paul of prison ministry." Dr. Vance Drum, chaplain at the Eastham prison in Lovelady, Texas, says, "Dr. Paul is a ministry entrepreneur. He has an idea and before you know it, it is a working, functioning model." Carlin has built the "Apostle Paul" and "ministry entrepreneur" reputation because of his enormous gift of creativity and his pioneer spirit.
In 1982 he organized Prisoners Bible Institute. For 25 years he and Jeri directed teams of 40 to 100 lay people at a time into adult prisons in five states every month for an energetic religious program called the Lay Witness Prison Revivals. The unique ministry style was conceived and piloted while Carlin was still incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute, Texarkana, Texas. "The idea was a Methodist program used in local churches," he explains. "Our unit chaplain, Charles Tyson, wanted to duplicate the concept in the prison setting and gave me the job of restructuring the program to fit the prison and directing the first Lay Witness Weekend ever conducted in any prison in America. That was in 1971."
Dr. Paul Carlin
His own life was changed during the three-day event. "Kneeling on the old wood floor in the prison auditorium during the concluding service, I ask God to allow me to take this concept to every prison in America when I was released," Carlin says.
He was paroled out the Federal System in 1973. He went back to Houston where he met Jeri. After their marriage in1975, Paul conducted his first prison revival at the Ellis Unit in Texas in 1978. That event ignited the Lay Witness Prison Revival ministry that recruited and trained hundreds of laymen for prison ministry. His dream was coming true!
Ten years after being paroled, he put together the Texas Prison Invasion, December 7-9, 1984. Twenty eight (28) Texas prisons opened their bars to twenty eight evangelistic teams of 50 laymen each for three days of one-on-one with inmates, gospel music and evangelistic preaching. The event was called, "The Texas Prison Invasion."
Jeri Carlin, MA
Twelve years after he left prison on parole, in 1986, he saw another part of that dream come true. With the cooperation of International Prison Ministry legend, Chaplain Ray, he orchestrated the National Prison Invasion when 300 prisons and 8,000 volunteers used his Lay Witness Prison Revival program simultaneously. It was reported that the effort reached over 300,000 prisoners in a single weekend.
However, Dr. Carlin was not always a prison evangelist. For 10 years before his bout with federal law he was one of the leading local church evangelists in the Southern Baptist Convention. He quit the ministry in 1962 to become a wealthy Houston businessman. He says about his deviation, "I became obsessed with the sin of illegitimate desire. That means I wanted what God did want me to have. Illegitimate desire led to undedicated ambition." Because of illegal business dealings in his church bond business, a Federal Grand Jury returned an 11-count securities violation and mail fraud indictment against him. The respected former Southern Baptist Evangelist was sentenced to six years in federal prison. During that time he lost his business, his ministry and his wife divorced him.
A real cellblock
"God used those hard times to pull my life back together," he says. "It may sound strange, but the judge did me a favor. We are now reaching thousands of men and women few people can reach because of my incarceration. I would not be in prison ministry if I had not gone to prison. Failure is not final unless you quit," Carlin says.
After Carlin´s release from prison in 1973, he worked, remarried, preached when given the opportunity, continued his graduate degree programs, started a church south of Houston and began developing plans for a prison ministry. "Other preachers called me ´the preacher who went to prison, " Carlin now says with a smile.
He completed his Masters Degree in 1981 and Doctor of Theology, Magna Cum Laude, at International Seminary, Orland, Florida, in 1983. In 1989, Carlin received his Doctor of Philosophy in Religion from Christian Bible College and Seminary and a Doctor of Restorative Justice from Therapon University, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Mrs. Carlin holds a Masters Degree in Psychology and Christian Counseling from Louisiana Baptist University. Jeri’s field of expertise is in temperament analysis.
& Larry Taylor
In 1990, Carlin became the father and founder of The Association of X-Offenders. Thirty-five chapters were soon established in Texas state prisons. The idea was to provide peer support that would help reduce prison recidivism.
In 1997, Dr. Carlin organized The Therapon Institute, Texas’ first faith-based counseling school. He used as his curriculum the recovery and restoration justice model he had developed during his years in his prison ministry. Using the prisons as his laboratory and prisoners as his subjects, Carlin developed a psychological and religious counseling model he called Belief Therapy.(R) With the passing of the new Texas faith-based agenda under then Governor George W. Bush’s leadership, it became legal for people of faith to assist hurting and healing people navigate their way through addictions and other life-controlling problems to spiritual and emotional health.
Belief Therapy became the nation’s first faith-based registered and recognized "psychological and religious" counseling model. In December of 1998, then Governor Bush recognized Carlin for his accomplishment with an engraved and signed award. Therapon has graduated over 10,000 Certified and Licensed Belief Therapist in almost every state and many foreign countries.
& Dr. Paul
In May of 2005, Carlin addressed the growing issue of recidivism in the Texas prison system. He and his wife, Jeri, organized and established a pre-release reentry program for long-term offenders of violent crimes on the maximum security Eastham prison. The program is called The Spiritual Dynamics of Criminal Recovery and Relapse Prevention. Carlin wrote the 528-page curriculum for the two-year course of study.
The CRRP program has grown into what the system now calls The Eastham Therapon Community. In four years, Therapon has already graduated five class with five other classes scheduled for graduation over the next five years.
Supporters of The Ministry have contributed enough funds to completely remodel 3,000 square feet of unused classroom space in Eastham’s old North gymnasium. The CRRP program not only has its own dormitories, but its own beautiful air-conditioned ministry learning center and one-on-one counseling rooms. The study lab is equipped with oak-top round tables and accented with comfortable padded chairs. The men have access to single DVD players for individual study. The classroom, which will seat 48 men in a classroom style arrangement and 120 men in a theater format, is equipped with a sound system and a 54" television for group DVD classes.
In 2006, Paul and Jeri Carlin were recipients of the prestigious Texas Governor’s "Outstanding Innovative Program Development Award" for their creation of the CRRP program in the Texas Prison system. In 2007, they were presented the "Volunteers of The Year Award" for their sacrificial service in the creation and development of the Eastham Therapeutic Community program.
However, awards are no strangers to Carlin. In the early days of his prison ministry, both Governors Price Daniels and Mark White recognized him for his work with the Texas Youth Commission. Dr. Carlin says, "One of the pictures I am most proud of is the one of Governor Daniels and me. He was a great man." In 1996, he received a special award from the Baptist General Convention of Texas for "outstanding work in prison ministry communications." In 1987, he received the Paul and Silas Award as the top prison ministry in Texas. In 2002, He was named an Honorary Colonel in the Militia of the Sate of Alabama for his assistance in establishing faith-based programs in their state prison system.
Dr. Freddie Gage
In 2006, Carlin developed another counseling model called Reentry Crisis Counseling. "My idea was to train faith-based counselors in the art of helping parolees suffer from reentry crisis issues," Carlin says. "A crisis can be the trigger that leads to a parole violation and re-incarceration." He has trained sever hundred laypeople in the modality with the goal in mind of helping to alleviate the parolee’s stress of rejection and emotional trauma. The goal is to prevent relapse and recidivism.
He and his wife, Jeri, host the one-hour radio broadcast, Prisoners of Hope Bible Broadcast, every Sunday evening over KIVY radio in Crockett. The program reaches into 23 State prisons that house over 47,000 prisoners. The program reaches hundreds of prisoners and their families.
Dr. Carlin is also a prolific writer. He has authored such titles as Prisoners of Hope, Treasures of Darkness, The Second Peter Principle, How To Start Over, Satan and The Saint, Change Your Beliefs --- Change Your Life, His Steps, Living Free: Reentry Crisis Counseling, Setting Captives Free, Mastering Life Through Belief Therapy, His Steps, The 12 Keys To Developing and Maintaining Mature Relationships, Success Secrets That Have Never Failed, Thinking Errors and Vomiting Dogs and Wallowing Hogs.
Dr. Carlos McCloud
Dr. Paul and Jeri with
Governor George W. Bush
Dr. Paul and Jeri with then
Governor Mike Huckabee
A CRRP graduating class in a maximum security prison