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Overstreet dismayed at the number of young people in prison

Overstreet dismayed at the number of young people in prison

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With over 30 years of missionary work and 500 churches planted around the world under his belt, Veteran American evangelist Pastor Don Overstreet says that Christian churches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have come a long way, but still have work to do.{{more}}

Pastor Overstreet is here from Los Angeles, California, with plans to establish a church that caters to drug addicts, ex convicts and the homeless, whom he believes are not being reached.

The pastor says that he believes more should be done in the area of evangelism, where the church should reach out to persons outside the church in order to bring more souls to Christ.

“The question we must ask ourselves is ‘Where would Jesus be? Will he be in a holy temple or would he be down there with the widow or the hungry mother?’ We need to catch up with God. My drive in life is to find out where God is working and catch up with him.”

“My heart’s cry is that every church on the island becomes evangelical again. They have to keep on going outside the church walls,” Overstreet added.

“People are not going to walk inside the church walls because of fear and prejudice.”

“We have to go where the people are not just on Sunday mornings. That means being inconvenienced, criticized, but we have to do it.”

Pastor Overstreet first came to St. Vincent on December 31, 1976, with his young family.

Here he started preaching the word of God on the on street corners, then later in 1977 established the Kingstown Baptist Church at ‘Garden’s Gate’, which has since been followed by six other churches over the years.

Pastor Overstreet is also credited with the introduction of the prison ministry, where he led a number of prisoners to Christ, as well as the establishment of the much anticipated prisoners’ concert at Christmastime.

“My philosophy was ‘Let’s find out who’s not being touched.’ When I looked, everybody said ‘We don’t go to the prisons, Christians don’t go to the prisons;’ then I said ‘Let’s go’ and I had never done it before.”

Overstreet was also involved in the medical ministry where he had dentists and eye specialists come in to perform simple procedures on patients, and also recalls going around to various emergency shelters during the eruption of La Soufriere in 1979, showing Christian movies to the evacuees.

According to the pastor, although that type of ministry may not be needed as much now, there is still a need for the churches to be out in the ‘highways and byways’ winning souls.

While here on their one week trip, Overstreet and his team, which consisted of his son Kirk, Ron Thomas, Mark Hammond, Rodney Harrison and Ross Shepherd, were busy ministering at various churches and schools, and also in Sandy Bay, Overland, Chateaubelair, Paul’s Avenue and, of course, Her Majesty’s Prisons, where a number of persons accepted Christ.

Reflecting on the way things used to be, Pastor Overstreet says that he believes the churches have become more professional in their operations, but he is dismayed that the prison has tripled its population.

“Back then we were the only church… I allowed women to come without a hat and they could wear pants and was heavily criticized by the other churches – not the sinners.”

“When people said ‘I don’t have a suit to wear, I never wore a suit; I wanted them to feel comfortable. I reached people who did not feel comfortable in the traditional churches that were already established.”

“The difference with the prison is that the population in the prison is so much higher. When I came here it was about 150, but now its 384.”

“My concern is not so much the population, but it’s the young of age that are in there and the hopelessness. When they get out, what are they going to do?”

“I was very impressed that they are setting up a training school out there (at Belle Isle), where they can teach them trades.”

Pointing out that Phillipians 4:13 is his life verse, the 64-year-old pastor who has been ministering for the past 45 years, has had his own personal challenges, which include a liver transplant and colon, skin and kidney cancer treatment, indicated that he intends to continue ministering until he finds ‘the right retirement plan.’

“It would be easy to retire. I have done enough work for the kingdom and I’m ready to go to heaven but I want to take as many people as I can with me to heaven, and that’s why I can’t quit.”

“That’s why I go to the toughest places in L.A. That’s why I go to the places where christians and even the cops don’t like to go, and we go and start churches there because that’s where Jesus would be.”

“You have to minister to the people who are angry and scared, who would do criminal acts and destroy a person’s life.”

Overstreet and the rest of his team were scheduled to leave here today, Friday.

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