The Colorado Department of Corrections Youthful Offender System hosted its first-ever public baptism in early July.
Eleven juvenile men, all tried and sentenced as adults for violent crimes and enrolled in the YOS program, were baptized by New Horizons Ministries on a hot July afternoon.
The men, dressed in white shirts, sweat pants and shower sandals, were joined by members of New Horizons. A 6-foot stock tank filled with water sat on a flatbed trailer in the prison yard.
The inmates gave a short testimony, which was accepted by New Horizons director Loren Miller. Then they were lowered into the water. Other inmates and guards could be seen watching the service from nearby buildings.
"Remember, you're Christians now," said Miller after the baptism.
Later, Miller explained what he meant by that: "We simply believe that when one accepts this way to God that there is a public proclamation that is made so that everybody will know they declared this belief."
Miller hopes that the baptized men will help others to see the light.
"They [other inmates] will start asking these young men for real answers and these young men will begin to share the answers that they have found," he said.
Since 2000, New Horizons has provided six separate chapel services on the second Sunday of each month for the men and women incarcerated at YOS. New Horizons also provides instructors for Bible college courses and life-skills classes in four prison facilities in Colorado, as well as child-care services for mothers who are incarcerated in Colorado prisons.
-- photo and story by Sean Cayton