When Mel Hartung attended Faith for the first time in 2000, he was facing what he described as a “spiritual battle.” The following Tuesday, a GO team (formerly EE) visited his home and shared the gospel with him. “I agreed with what they were saying and what the gospel said about eternal life, but I wouldn’t accept Christ that night. I told them I would wait, but I wouldn’t explain what was going on inside of me.”
At that point in his life, Mel was retired and driving a school bus. “It was the next Friday and I dropped the last kid off at Red Feather Lakes, and something told me to accept Christ. I pulled that bus over and accepted Christ.” When Mel shared what he had done, Pastor Brad suggested that he sign up for the GO ministry.
“I’ve never been one who wanted to be in front of a crowd and talk. But I accepted, and it was the best thing that has ever happened in my life. Everybody should be equipped like you are in the GO course. That’s the Great Commission. You may save one person in your whole lifetime, but you know what that means.”
Six years ago, Gene, a retired pastor, asked Mel if he would help him at the Larimer County Detention Center. “He started a Bible study and it just bloomed.” Once he became involved at the jail, Mel found an opportunity to do one-on-one ministry with inmates. Volunteers come in on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to meet with men who have asked to speak with someone from the prison ministry.
“I think it’s happened to me four times, where I go in and there will be a guy looking at me. And they will come up to me and say, ‘Something told me to go over and see you.’ But I am just the messenger. You know exactly when the Holy Spirit is working in them.”
Recently, Mel shared the gospel with a young man who was in on a drug charge. “His mother is a believer who disowned him after he went to prison. So he knew about committing his life to Christ, but he was unsure of where he was at. I read the Sinner’s Prayer with him and asked if he agreed with it, and I could tell the Spirit was working in him because he was getting very humble. I gave him a copy of the prayer and told him to give it to his mom when he gets out and say, ‘This is what I’ve done.’ And his eyes lit up. I pray that he does that.”
Mel acknowledges that there are guys who accept Christ and get out and go back to their old habits. “But you can’t be judgmental because some are wonderful people who are dealing with addictions. There was one guy who was addicted to alcohol and he now comes to every Bible study and prays that he can break his addiction. Nothing is too big for God.”
Currently, there is a need for both males and females to serve in Faith’s Prison Ministry. Mel believes that the GO program is a great first step for anyone who chooses to answer this calling. “It’s real satisfying. It’s especially a great ministry for young people because you can relate to the inmates who are the same age.”