My Westwood

Honoring God. Loving People. Stories at Westwood.

A Prison, Some Donuts and Faithful Volunteers Changed Me

Published September 14, 2017
Matt Moeller Picture
By Matt Moeller

Fifteen years ago when I was sitting in the county jail, an elderly couple helped introduce me to faith. Roy and Caroline served as prison ministry volunteers for their church. Every 
Friday night the couple would facilitate a worship service in the jail’s gym. Roy would play the guitar and Caroline would lead in singing classic hymns. Roy would then preach a short message and ask if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. 

On January 31, 2003, I accepted that invitation. After the service, we would all eat glazed doughnuts that Roy and Caroline purchased at a local bakery and brought each week. We thus dubbed the service “The Church of the Holy Donut.” 

Many of us going to those services were in pretty dire situations. Some of us were looking at decades in prison. Our circumstances were dark, yet those songs, sermons and doughnuts served with the love of Christ, penetrated the darkness with a blinding light. They not only led us to Christ, they led us to futures of hope and renewal by the spirit of God. 

One night as we all walked back to our cells after a service, a Latino man with a thick accent asked, “Those two people, they are Jesus, no?” 

We all laughed at the time, but thinking back it makes sense. Roy and Caroline were Jesus to us. Most of us had a mistaken view that religion was about ritual and condemnation. Roy and Caroline introduced us to radical love and grace. 

When we act out of the self-sacrificial love of Christ we become Jesus to those around us. We pour out his love on others, and they see his reflection in us. Our service to Christ does not have to be elaborate to be effective. We can do it overseas or over our lunch break. After all, Roy and Caroline broke through the concrete shells of criminals using nothing but a guitar, a Bible and a box of doughnuts. 

When we die, we won’t be asked “How many hours did you spend in prayer each day?” or “How often did you go to church?” God is more interested in hearing our answer to “How did you respond to brothers and sisters in need?” 

Roy and Caroline responded with the Church of the Holy Doughnut. We can respond by meeting needs as we see them. Spend some time helping out at a food shelf, give stuff away you don’t use any more, offer a ride to someone who needs it, or even sign up for an international mission. Wherever God is calling you to serve, do so. 

You will not only be helping those who need it, you will reflect Christ to a world who desperately needs to see him.


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