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Monday
Feb212011

Joe Spears: A Shining Light

Andrew and Joe at the 2010 Summer Family Bible Conference in Colorado Springs. (Click to enlarge)It was nearly ten years ago that Joe Spears' friend asked him if he would be willing to go into a prison and share his testimony of how God saved his marriage and turned his life around after years of alcohol abuse and poor choices. Joe, a big believer in second chances, agreed to his friend’s request.

After sharing his story for the first time, Joe knew without a doubt that God was calling him to reach out to the inmates in the prisons, and he wasted no time jumping into full-time ministry. In 2002, Joe and his wife Kayla launched Lighthouse Prison Ministry and Joe left his telecommunications job behind.

Joe and Kayla Spears, founders of Lighthouse Prison Ministry in Oklahoma. (Click to enlarge)Joe was soon working in five different prison facilities and interacting with hundreds of men per week. As of today, Joe and his team have been active in eight prisons across the state of Oklahoma. The inmates look for hope and encouragement from Joe, and he delivers it to them. He interacts with them honestly, has fun fellowshipping with them, playing card games and eating meals, and offers them hope through sharing the good news of the Gospel.

In March 2010, Joe and Kayla were introduced to Andrew’s ministry. One of the inmates, with whom Joe interacts, enthusiastically asked him if he had ever heard of Andrew; Joe replied that he had not. Inmates lining up to enter one of Joe's tent meetings at the Joseph Harp Corrections Center. (Click to enlarge)Out of curiosity Joe tuned into Andrew's Gospel Truth television program, but did not find it very exciting. Approximately one week later, as he was sorting through the prison mail, he came across a promotional piece sent from AWM announcing one of Andrew's upcoming conferences. Recognizing Andrew's name he made note of the flyer, but did not give it much thought. The following week, Joe's father, an Assemblies of God pastor, called and said he had come across a preacher on television and he thought Joe should check him out. Of course the preacher was Andrew. Joe and Kayla tuned in again and this time Andrew was teaching a series called, The War is Over.The message caught Joe's attention, and he was hooked. As the couple began to receive During this tent meeting Joe had been teaching about the Believer's Authority and A Better Way to Pray. Inmates came forward to receive all that the Lord provided. (Click to enlarge)revelation from the Word of God through Andrew’s teaching, their view of God changed and Joe knew he needed to share these teachings with the inmates. “The men that I work with have been so hungry for truth and I knew that there had to be more. After reading A Better Way to Pray, The War is Over and God Wants You Well, I knew I had to take these truths to the men in prison,” Joe said.

Joe is energetic and passionate about the ministry to which the Lord has called him, and he is particularly excited when he sees the prisoners understanding the truths he is sharing. "When the inmates see that God is not mad at them, even for what they have done to be incarcerated, they become free to receive all that Jesus has for them," said Joe. Joe teaching outside at the William S. Key Correctional Center.
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His ministry efforts focus on recreating the inmates' core identity with Jesus as the role model, and deal with the issues that distort the view of biblical masculinity. He also focuses on relationship building. Joe uses materials from a number of prominent ministries, but he has seen great results in the inmates' perception of God since incorporating Andrew's teachings.

One inmate at Joseph Harp Correctional Center said that Andrew's teachings had really helped him discover practical ways to live out his faith. The inmate used the teaching, A Better Way to Pray as anexample. "Through this teaching series, [Andrew] really changed my outlook on how we are supposed to pray and to receive healing from God. The Spears family: (L-R) Joe's son, Joshua, wife Kayla, Joe and his daughter, Abigail.
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The teaching tools helped me realize that in the past, the ways that I was praying weren’t right. I was asking for things that I already had been promised in the Word," said Robert R.

Allan, another inmate at the same correctional facility said, "[Joe] the Chaplain here introduced me to Andrew's ministry by providing a DVD series, God Wants You Well. This information has made me look at how I act and speak concerning sickness in my body or in others. My faith is steadily growing. I know now, that there are many things that I have to unlearn in my life, so that I may apply the things Andrew taught me."

In addition to his in-house ministry, Joe works with men on the outside, to set up mentoring relationships with the men on the inside. He also works with local churches encouraging them to be receptive to the men upon their release from prison. Through these relationships, Lighthouse Prison Ministry has been able to help former inmates find housing, employment, transportation and clothing—a tremendous blessing to newly freed men. The biggest blessing, however, is their new found freedom in Christ, thanks to the efforts of Joe and his team sharing the good news of second chances through the Gospel.