Sometimes it is easy for us to ignore the past, but I will always be indebted to Ron Goodman who tirelessly recruited me to work with him in prison ministry and take the oversight upon his planned retirement at the end of 2012. I will have to say I was quite reluctant and told him “no” on several occasions before I finally agreed to his request. It was Ron’s fervent desire to see that the ministry continue long past his retirement and time here on this earth. Prison ministry was Ron’s lifetime passion.
While preaching in Texas in the 1970s, Ron began working with Clyde Thompson, a man who was once on death row and was eventually released and who immediately began a prison ministry in Huntsville, Texas. In 1977, Ron Goodman took over this important work. Clyde’s story is told in the book and movie, The Meanest Man in Texas.
In 1982, while Helen and Harold Cox were involved in prison ministry at the Madison Church of Christ in the Nashville area, the Harpeth Hills congregation recruited Ron to come to Nashville and help organize the overall work, recruit volunteers, and raise funds for the ministry. Teaming up with the Coxes, they formed the Nashville prison ministry, a forerunner to TPOM, and they also formed a federal team that traveled across the nation to federal prisons to hold annual seminars, leading thousands to Christ over a 30-year time frame.
I will not forget our volunteer dinner in 2012 where Ron was recognized upon his upcoming retirement for his 30 years of service in Nashville. It was an emotional day for Ron, but he always told me that he hoped TPOM would grow and expand beyond his many accomplishments. Sure enough, Ron was here for the grand opening of the TPOM Reentry Center in 2015 and he celebrated each milestone for the ministry. If it were not for Ron Goodman, TPOM would not exist today and I certainly would not be in my current role.
Even when Ron retired from full-time work, he continued his efforts in prison ministry. At the age of 79 on Feb 26, 2023, Ron was preaching a sermon at the Deberry Special Needs prison in Nashville. Upon leaving the facility, he fell in the parking lot and broke his leg. He was hospitalized for surgery and for breathing issues that led to his fall. Ron texted me that he would need to step away from volunteering until he improved, but that did not occur. Instead, his health continued to decline. I am forever thankful to Ron and this tribute is my small way of recognizing a man who blessed many lives and laid the foundation (along with Harold and Helen Cox) for the formation of the Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministry.
PS: I hope that as 2023 closes, that you will support this ministry and consider making a gift in honor of Ron Goodman and his legacy which lives on in this work.