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Shaffer named chaplain at county jail

Says he has personal experience to relate to inmates

August 26, 2010
By LYDIA COTTRELL lcottrell@timesobserver.com
Stacy Shaffer has been named the new chaplain for the Warren County Jail, filling the shoes of the man who mentored him in the past. The Brackenridge, Pa., native said he is prepared and ready to serve the inmate population with an understanding that comes from experience. Shaffer is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served in Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Operation Just Cause in Panama. During Operation Just Cause, he was wounded and eventually found himself in a life of drug addiction and crime. At one point, Shaffer spent five years in prison for assault and battery on a police officer with a vehicle. His struggles later landed him in Warren County where he met John Nelson and other jail ministry volunteers. “They help me get my feet underneath me through Christ,” he said. Shaffer was released from prison on Sept 19, 1999, and wanted nothing more than to go back into the jail – to help others. “Lives can change,” he said. “It can be done. I am proof it can be done.” Despite his endless desire to help other inmates, jail personnel were reluctant to let him back into the prison. Nelson stood up for Shaffer and vowed that the recent ex-inmate would be a help and not a hindrance. “He gave his life for me,” Shaffer said. Since that time, Shaffer has volunteered in the jail. Assuming the role of chaplain brings Shaffer’s story full circle. “My heart is in that jail,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot of the same situations those inmates have.” He added, “The Peace Corps has that tagline ‘this is the toughest job you’ll ever love.’ That is prison ministry.” Looking to the future, Shaffer said he wants to increase the number of volunteers in the jail ministry program. By his calculations, less than 10 percent of Warren County churches and ministries have a presence in the jail. “People can change and will change as productive citizens through Christ,” he said. He noted that as the chaplain he recognizes and respects the beliefs of non-Christian inmates and mentors them through emotional support and by being an example of the possibility of change. Shaffer attended Trinity College and Seminary where he studied theology. In addition, he attended several biblical studies programs including Emmaus Bible College and Source of Light Ministries. Shaffer also attended programs through Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship and Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. Shaffer resides in Barnes with his wife and two daughters.

Article Photos

Times Observer photo by Lydia Cottrell
Stacy Shaffer

 
 

 

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