Fifteen years ago Chaplin Len Salmon contacted Arthur Craig, Pastor of Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church in Houston Texas about the possibility of ministering to the deaf inmates at the Estelle Prison Unit in Huntsville Texas. At that time deaf inmates were place randomly in TDJC across the state of Texas. Shortly after beginning our ministry the decision was made to house all of the deaf inmates at the Estelle unit. In the beginning there were seven inmates incarcerated there. Since that time the numbers have grown to almost one hundred deaf inmates.
The ministry to deaf prisoners has included worship services on a monthly basis, a weekly discipleship class, an annual prison revival, mentoring, aftercare support, and ministries providing Bibles, Bible study materials, Christian videos and a weekly video of Woodhaven’s Sunday worship service in American Sign Language. Over twenty-five deaf inmates have been baptized during the past fifteen years.
The goal for this ministry is to have a worship team lead a Sunday morning deaf service with the deaf inmates on a weekly basis, strengthen and expand our mentoring and aftercare ministry, develop a ministry to inmate families, and produce more Christian videos in American Sign Language. Also, a team is needed to minister to female prisoner in Gatesville, Texas and the county jails
As pastor of Woodhaven, Arthur Craig also serves as the volunteer chaplain to the deaf at the Harris County Jail in Houston, and serves on the board that has established a non-profit organization called Deaf Prison Ministry Network of which the purpose is to develop and network deaf prison ministry in America. It is estimated that six and ten thousand deaf people are incarcerated in America. This ministry is being organized with regional directors, state coordinators, and point people.