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Culpeper Member Goes From Prisoner to Prison Minister
Story by Dan Jensen
Johny Carmouche, a member of the Culpeper (Va.) church, stands outside the Coffeewood Correctional Center where he fulfilled the last part of his 20-year prison sentence.
He looks out of place standing next to the whitewashed sign in front of the Coffeewood Correctional Center in Mitchells, Va. One would never guess this unassuming man once called this facility home.
“Good afternoon. My name is Johny Carmouche, and I’m a convicted felon.” Thus begins the telling story of a man who went to prison for a crime he admits he committed, a crime of passion. Carmouche continues, “God chose to use me in prison ministry, which I never saw myself doing. In 1991 I was convicted of first-degree murder. I committed a crime that had to do with my former wife, who was having an affair. I went to prison and was given a 20-year sentence. Because of my age, education, as well as my ability to do the right thing in prison, I only spent 10 years in the correctional center.”
He was originally sent to the Staunton Correctional Center, where he served out the majority of his sentence. After nearly eight years, he requested a transfer from Staunton to Coffeewood, an odd request considering Staunton is a level-two center and Coffeewood is level-three, maximum security. But, that’s where he wanted to be, and they approved his request.
Once released from prison for serving his time, he says he “had no desire to have anything to do with the prison system whatsoever.” Unbeknownst to Carmouche, who now attends Potomac Conference’s Culpeper (Va.) church, God had other plans.
He soon learned of a young man who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and was now in the same position as Carmouche had been. He felt impressed to set his feelings aside and make contact with the young man.
The young man eventually shared with Carmouche that there was a group within the prison, a group of Messianic Jews, who wanted to worship and needed a sponsor. “I was not interested in helping them, but there was a little voice inside of me that kept prompting me to help them,” Carmouche reports.
Initially, the prison turned down Carmouche’s request to enter the facility since he is a previous felon. After some time, he resubmitted his petition, and that time it worked. Carmouche entered the prison he once called home in order to visit and minister to the prisoners of Coffeewood.
Carmouche has now been ministering to the Coffeewood prisoners for nearly a decade. Today he and other volunteers regularly hold services for the Messianic Jew and now Seventh-day Adventist inmates. From Carmouche’s small initiative, outreach to the inmates has evolved to include five ministries that involve volunteers from churches in Danville, Orange and Culpepper (Va.). Volunteers go to Coffeewood, and now the adjacent Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center, every Friday evening to minister to those who desperately need to hear about the love of Jesus Christ.
Read more about the awesome way God used the life of this former felon: pcsda.org/JohnyCarmouche.
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