Michigan (WNEM) — A local organization is on a mission to make sure no inmate in Michigan feels alone and isolated.
“Just the other day I had a conversation with an inmate who sat down and he said, ‘you know, I’ve been here for a while now and when I arrived I had a lot of people telling me right I’ll be, I’ll visit you, I’ll call you, I’ll write to you’ and he said, ‘you know what, after months of being here, not a single one of them has ever visited. They haven’t written, they haven’t called.’ And then he said, ‘I feel totally forgotten,’” said Chaplain Michael Deruyter, with Forgotten Man Ministries.
Deruyter’s congregation isn’t your run-of-the-mill Sunday crowd. It’s the inmates at the Midland County Jail.
“One thing that I like to do is encourage any type of program or organization that encourages the inmates to be productive members of society,” Midland County Sheriff Myron Greene said.
Starting in 1966, Forgotten Man Ministries has now spread across 35 counties in Michigan, supporting the incarcerated.
“So one of my goals is always to show up in somebody’s life and be somebody that doesn’t need anything from you, right,” Deruyter said. “I don’t have any agenda for you. I don’t need anything from you. I’m not expecting anything from you, but I’m somebody that you can talk to.”
After 18 years as a local pastor, Deruyter made the leap. He’s been the chaplain at the jail for about half a year, but in that time he’s talked to nearly all 136 men and women.
“I try really hard to not know why somebody is here,” Deruyter said. “So I think you can deal with somebody based on the decisions that they’ve made in the past or you can deal with somebody based on who they think they want to be in the future.”
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