Reflections from Pastor Phyllis Brantley
It has been over a year since Failsafe Ministry and volunteer activities were put on pause due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Bible studies, sermons and spiritual guidance which were a daily support for inmates of the Rappahannock Regional Jail (RRJ) were suddenly discontinued. Our inability to minister to individuals one on one weighed heavily on my heart, and caused me to stay in continuous prayer about God’s plan for His children behind bars.
During one of my prayer times, the Lord brought back to my memory conversations I had with several women that had grown in the faith. I was reminded of how we encouraged them to know their identity in Christ and challenged them to be an example of God’s love and light in the darkness of RRJ. As a result of much prayer, and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, these women were able to take on the responsibility of praying and interceding for others and providing guidance and support in the absence of volunteers. Knowing that our ladies were able to minister to each other, gave me a sense of peace.
Another such reminder of our faith in action was made evident during the funeral service of Eugene “QJ” Melchior, the son of Mrs. Juanita Shanks, Failsafe-ERA’s CEO and Founder. Eugene was a child of God and a friend to many. In one instance, he had a friend that needed an empathetic ear about some of her life issues. Eugene listened, emailed scriptures, and provided encouragement to his friend, directing her to look to Jesus, our only hope. Eugene’s prayers and encouragement eventually led to his friend making the best decision of her life; she gave her heart to Christ. You see friends, Eugene did all of this while he himself was incarcerated. Although he was in a place that did not promote goodness, grace or mercy, he was able to extend all those and more to others. Despite his physical limitations, Eugene put love in action and led his friend to a place of forgiveness, peace and hope.
I felt it was important to share with you how God used Eugene during his days of incarceration to bring what was most needed to someone in a crisis. I cannot say what Eugene was going through during this time, but it is my understanding that he was sick, however, in spite of his own suffering, he pressed on to help others in need.
Eugene and the ladies are my examples of light in the midst of darkness. Although he is at rest now, there are countless others who are incarcerated that continuously, and fervently stand in the gap just as Eugene did. These soldiers of the cross reach out to their fellow inmates with comforting words, a listening ear, an understanding heart and encouragement through prayer and the Word of God.
So, be encouraged and keep up the “good fight” until we return to RRJ and other jails. Remember to always speak hope instead of hopelessness, peace instead of conflict, joy instead of sorrow, and love instead of hate. Let us allow our lights to shine as we seek provision and protection from above knowing that the doors will soon open allowing God’s children to receive all that He has for them.
Just as Eugene’s last words to his mother were, “Don’t worry about me, take care of the others”, Failsafe Ministry will continue to provide care and support for our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated through prayer and the Word of God.
Thank you Eugene for your example. Rest in peace~