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For Rev. Rick Admiraal, the call was clear.

“I felt a call from God not just to do ministry, but to do ministry specifically in the prison setting,” said Admiraal. “A lot of people think of prison as a dark place, but it’s also a place that is spiritually fruitful, and that very much energizes me.”

On Sunday, February 6, Admiraal was ordained as a minister of the Word at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, and his first parish will be New Life Prison Church, a church plant within the Newton (Iowa) Correctional Facility.

New Life will become the third Christian Reformed church behind prison walls.

Admiraal recalled that even as a young child he had compassion for those on the margins of society.  

While studying at Calvin Theological Seminary, Admiraal went with several people to the Ionia Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Michigan, where they met Rev. Steve Moerman, who leads Cornerstone, a Christian Reformed prison church in Worthing, S.D., and pastors from two other prison churches.

“We listened to them describe their model of ministry,” Admiraal said. “We heard their stories, and heard how empowering it was for inmates because they are not just

ministered to, but they become servants of God; they become leaders in the church, and participate. I fell in love with that model of ministry. I thought, ‘This is a place where I could thrive in ministry that would really match who I was as a person.’”

Rev. Arthur Van Wolde, pastor of Calvary CRC, has been an ardent supporter of the planting effort, serving as both a member of the launch team and volunteering with Admiraal at the prison. Admiraal and volunteers from several supporting churches are now hosting a weekly prayer group as well as a Bible study.

New Life, which has an annual budget of just over $100,000, is supported largely by Classis Central Plains (a regional group of churches) as well as Christian Reformed Home Missions.

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