BELTON — Bill Glass, a former NFL player and founder of Champions for Life Ministries, will be the guest speaker at the annual J.A.I.L. Ministry banquet Oct. 24.
The Silver Anniversary banquet, celebrating 25 years of J.A.I.L. (Jesus Acts in Inmates Lives) Ministry in Bell County, will be held at the Bell County Expo Center, beginning at 6:15 p.m.
The banquet is open to the public, but reservations are required.
The banquet will pay special tribute to Chaplain Harold Ellis, the founding executive director of the Bell County J.A.I.L. Ministry.
Ellis had been involved for years in the Bill Glass prison crusades. It was during these prison crusades that Ellis met Glass and saw the importance of sharing Christ’s love with inmates.
That desire continued after Ellis moved to Belton and began sharing with the inmates in the Bell County Jail.
Ellis’ Bell County program began with a group of eight volunteers. Although Ellis died in 2002, today, the ministry, under the leadership of Executive Director Steve Cannon, has continued to expand to more than 300 active volunteers spending more than 45 hours a week in the justice system providing group Bible studies, one-on-one visits with inmates, and assistance to their families in the community.
“After participating in Bill Glass Prison Crusades, God placed on Harold’s heart a desire to tell inmates about Christ in order to change their lives,” Cannon said. “Harold was a visionary, and with the help of local church and business partners, and community volunteers, that vision is even more effective today.”
Glass, a graduate of Baylor University, made a name for himself as an outstanding football player in the NFL. While at Baylor, he was a consensus All-American, and he helped establish the Campus Crusade for Christ chapter on the Baylor campus.
Glass was a member of the 1964 Cleveland Browns team who beat the Baltimore Colts to win the NFL World Championship two years before the first Super Bowl.
Glass is a four-time All-Pro and was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. He retired in 1969 after 22 years in amateur and professional football.
As his football career was drawing to a close, Glass delivered his personal testimony of faith on television during several Billy Graham Crusades. Graham urged Glass to consider taking on a new career as a citywide evangelist.
In 1969, he founded Bill Glass Ministries, which today is called Bill Glass Champions for Life. According to Glass, the highlight of his life has been sharing “The Healing Power of a Father’s Blessing” message in and out of prisons all over the world.
Glass has held hundreds of prison crusades ministering to inmates around the U.S. It was during one of these prison crusades that Ellis met Glass and felt led to start the Bell County J.A.I.L. Ministry.
J.A.I.L. Ministries is a volunteer-dependent ministry. Volunteers provide ministry to Bell County Jail prisoners, ex-prisoners, victims and their families.
Volunteers lead Bible studies and in-jail seminars, assist crime victims, impact criminal justice legislation, mentor at-risk youth and ex-prisoners, purchase and deliver gifts to children of prisoners at Christmas, and provide administrative support in the Bell County J.A.I.L. Ministry office.
Volunteers are also involved in numerous leadership roles — serving on area councils and on ministry delivery teams that coordinate the ministry programs at the local level.
The ministry delivery team model strives to engage the local church and empower its members to coordinate local ministry.
J.A.I.L. Ministry Inc. was incorporated as a nonprofit ministry in 1992 and is funded by donations. Each year the program accounts for nearly 60,000 contacts in the Bell County Jail and the Juvenile Services Center. All proceeds from the banquet are used for sustaining and expanding the ministry.