June 2023 Magic Valley Chaplains Newsletter

New Site Facilities Leader for Jerome County Jail

Welcome to Bruce Venable, who has recently taken over for Barry as facility site leader at the Jerome County jail.  Bruce is a retired Pastor from Washington and has been serving in Jerome and Twin Falls County facilities. Many of you met Bruce and his wife, Linda, at the Chaplain banquet.  Barry has enjoyed working with each of chaplains serving at Jerome and credits you chaplains with building the inmate ministry there over the past three years. Barry adds that the Jerome staff has been great to work with and they take great care of the inmates.

Endowment and Fund Raising:

Fund raising events at local churches, such as the ones pictured below, have enabled MVC to continue to provide Bibles and other religious materials to any inmate who requests them in each one of the facilities served by the ministry.  In addition to local churches, private donors have contributed funds that have been used to create an endowment to ensure sustainability of the ministry in the years to come.

Updates from Ministry Facility Leaders and Aftercare:

  • Mini Cassia: Jed Thomas reported that the chaplains are seeing 4-5 inmates per week in individual sessions. Barry is working with a local pastor and the sheriff to try to get church services reinstated at this facility.
  • Juvenile Facility: Zach Ivey noted that, due to short staffing at the facility, most, but not all services are running as scheduled, and all services provided by the chaplains are well-attended by the  youth.
  • Aftercare: Tim Wood reported that church services and Bible studies during the week are well- attended. He is encouraged that residents are more engaged and “walking the walk,” lending itself to well-functioning programs.
  • Jerome: Barry reported that Bruce Venable has accepted the position of facility leader at this site. He noted also that Spanish services are provided more frequently.
  • Twin Falls County: Kathy Steinmetz noted that overcrowding at this facility has led to only one room being available for chaplain services, which means that only men’s or women’s services can be provided, resulting in half as many services being provided to inmates. Brent Reinke added that the overcrowding combined with understaffing has created a potential “powder keg” situation at this facility.
  • Idaho Department of Corrections Re-entry: Barry Knoblich reported that chaplain services are provided every Wednesday and that several local churches have begun to provide “mini concerts” monthly as pictured below.


2023 PREA Training CRC Reentry Facility:

On March 16th, the IDOC provided the annual PREA training for the chaplains. This well-attended event is pictured below.


Barry continues to order and stock chaplain materials. There was a change in the distribution process for TFC jail. Chaplains now email their orders via the materials list to Barry who fills the orders weekly for chaplains to pick up at his house. Materials are provided in bulk to the other facilities. Spanish materials orders have increased, especially in Jerome.

New Chaplains: 

The Lord continues to call more “laborers to the harvest.” The ministry has been blessed with more volunteer chaplains serving the incarcerated. Pictured below are two of our most recent additions, Rick Shearer, Sharon Donalson, and Lacey Haggan-Galloway.

Chaplain Summer Family Picnic:

We are looking for someone to chair this annual get together in August. The main dishes are provided by MVC with the rest a potluck. Contact Kathy or Barry if you can fill this need.

Kobe’s Story The reason for this story is to show how many ways our chaplains are impacting the inmates we serve. The Holy Spirit is always active but in some rare times we get to see how it all comes together. Be encouraged that all 67 of you are making a difference.

By Barry Knoblich

While doing Bible Study at the Jerome County jail 3-23-23 I met with inmate, Kobe, a 20-year-old male inmate from block 400. I always ask the same question of inmates before I start teaching to see where the Holy Spirit will lead the time we have together. Question: “If you died tomorrow, would you be 100% sure what would happen to you?”

Kobe said, “Yes,” and told me and Dennis, a chaplain I was training that evening, this story. While he was incarcerated in another jail, Twin, he attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself in Oct. 2022. While hanging he said he left his body and met with his uncle who had passed earlier that year. His uncle said, “It is not your time you must return.” He heard God say to him, “Know that I am God.” Kobe felt like God pulled his heart out of his body and gave him a new one. He was rescued and put on suicide watch in a cell with nothing in it. He knew something had happened to him and wanted to know more about God. Kobe’s journey started by asking for a Bible. He started meeting with Chaplain Monte, on a one-on-one basis, and started a Bible Study Course with Chaplain Phil.

He got word that his uncle, the same one in his vision, had left him his Bible in his will. When he received it, inside of the Bible was one piece of paper with the verse Psalm 46:10Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!

In December the Magic Valley Chaplains distribute Christmas cards that are colored and have a word of encouragement prepared by local area children. Each inmate in all the area jails, over 700, receive a card  handed out by the deputies. The word of encouragement on Kobe’s card was Psalm 46:10!  It confirmed to him that God loved him.

This young man is on fire for the and Lord and is witnessing to everyone around him. He is facing 12 years of time in prison, but he sees it as an opportunity to learn more about God/Jesus and share with others.

After completing the first four Bible study courses, Gospel Echoes offers to inmates a nice Bible personalized with the inmate’s name on it in gold letters. Kobe asked if his sister in Oklahoma could receive it with her name on it. She was going through a difficult time. His Bible he had earned was sent to her. She started reading it and has since given her life to the Lord.

I pray this young man will continue on this new pathway and be discipled alone the way. He has a hearing problem and I pray he will be healed or corrected medically.

I have heard lots of stories like this over the 25 years in this ministry, but hearing how the Holy Spirit used the people and programs I know to change this young man’s destiny is special to me. All glory to God.

I am proud to serve in this Ministry as a Chaplain and feel honored to have a front row seat to watch the Holy Spirit working to change hearts and minds for all eternity.


5-25-23 update

I saw Kobe at the Jerome County jail last night. He was still in Blk 400 and the only inmate that came to Bible study from that block cell. I had traded with another Chaplain so I normally would not have been there last night. I was glad to see him one last time before he left for a 28-year federal prison sentence. He took a plea deal. He was very upbeat about serving the Lord in prison and had already been working on a plan to start a men’s Christian group. He had been taken to Twin Falls for hearing testing and was getting hearing aids (prayer answered). I did a teaching on Exodus and the Last Supper/Passover and then had communion with him. He again asked me to thank the chaplains who had helped him over the past year, which I did this morning. He wanted to stay in touch with me. I explained we are not allowed to give our addresses to inmates. I talked to him about Christian resources in the prisons. I am positive God has good plans for his future.