BELTON — After serving the professional football gods on the gridiron for 12 years, Bill Glass hung up his jersey to serve a higher power.
Glass, a former NFL player for the Cleveland Browns turned evangelical minister and founder of Bill Glass Champions for Life Ministries, was the guest speaker at the annual Jesus Acts in Inmates Lives Ministry banquet Thursday at the Bell County Expo Center.
More than 700 people attended the silver anniversary banquet, celebrating 25 years worth of work the nonprofit has undertaken in ministering to local inmates.
The banquet also paid special tribute to the late Chaplain Harold Ellis, the founding executive director of the Bell County J.A.I.L. Ministry.
From the very beginning, Glass said he always had a strong Christian core and he used his platform as a professional athlete to spread the word to those living behind bars.
“In football, when is the game won? The first half? The second half?” Glass asked. “The game is won in the second half. The people who are incarcerated had a bad first half of their life. You can’t just write them off because they had a bad first half.”
After retiring from the game in 1969 with 22 years of football under his belt,
he founded his own ministry in 1972 to share “the healing power of a Father’s blessing” in and out of prisons all over the world.
“I don’t waste my time on people who have their lives together and who are not open to make life changes,” Glass said. “The people in jail are hurting, and they want to make a change. That’s why I do this. To help people make the necessary life changes to better themselves.”
J.A.I.L. Ministries is volunteer-dependent. 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.
“The world gets better when we make it better and you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to make that change happen,” said Donald Gill, a 20-year J.A.I.L Ministries volunteer. “I had a deep calling to do this. I want to work where God is working. God shares his grace with us and I want to reciprocate.”
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. For more information, go to www.billglass.org or www.jailmin.com.