Members in Action
Called Out of Darkness
Greg Emelander laid in his bunk, and as the lights turned off, he began to hear sobs throughout the six-story facility. He was 16 days into a seven-year sentence, and that night he fell to his knees and begged God for forgiveness for everything he had done. After hours of confession, he felt the great weight of his sin lifted from him. Although he was sure that he had been forgiven, he wondered what exactly God had planned for him, and how to proceed.
Greg grew up in an Adventist home, and attended Adventist schooling. In his teenage years, a series of choices led him down a path away from God. “I honestly didn’t care anymore. I was homicidal and suicidal,” said Greg of his state of mind during the time of his arrest. He grew closer to God in prison and was rebaptized in 2006. Two years after his release he officially founded Convictions Ministries, Inc., a nationwide prison ministry. His book, Where Darkness Reigned, was released in 2015 and has touched the lives of many people, including his sentencing judge who has purchased four copies of the book to date. It has been passed out in correctional facilities, workplaces, and between friends, with the majority of the sharing being done by non-Adventists who see the mercy and love of God in its message.
Last year, Greg was leaving a bookstore in Grand Rapids after giving free copies of his book to the staff. Upon leaving, he had exactly one copy of the book left, and gave it to a woman in the parking lot. Although their interaction was brief, he received a message from her the very next day. She had stayed up all night finishing the book. It had touched her personally, as her granddaughter had been battling a heroin addiction. Two months later he received a second message from the woman explaining how God had been answering their prayers, and that her granddaughter, after having read the book, was doing better than she had been in two years.
God continues to use Greg, his wife Brenda, and the rest of their team in amazing ways. There are about seven million U.S. citizens incarcerated or under supervision at any given time. As many of these people are at their lowest point and searching for truth, there is great opportunity to show them that there is a God who cares for them. Among the facilities that they focus on is a juvenile women’s prison in southern Indiana. Greg has been able to show that there is hope for those convicted, something that these 12- to 18-year-old girls are very much in need of.
“While in prison, the lack of material, resources, and dependable information really bothered me,” said Greg of his experience giving Bible studies during his sentence. He wanted to feel that he was getting somewhere with people, and that his efforts were being productive. Seeing the need for studies tailored specifically to people in seemingly hopeless situations, he has begun to develop his own Bible study curriculum. It will highlight the great controversy in innovative and practical ways, allowing students to see the spiritual war they’ve been involved in and how to make changes in their lives. The ultimate goal of their ministry is to reveal God as the only source of the peace that we all seek.
The course is intended to lead students to think critically, so that they may present the message in intelligent ways with those around them. Many other religions and denominations have a large presence in prisons, so they need to be prepared to explain and defend their faith to others. “The quality of the seeds you plant matters. If I want to see the group flourish, I have to make sure they have the materials they need,” said Greg. His team is committed to providing the materials necessary to create knowledgeable convictions, and change the lives of the destitute. Eleven years after his reconversion experience, he is still on fire for Christ and is being used in powerful ways. Conviction Ministries, Inc., is a member of the Lake Union chapter of ASI, and aims to teach lost souls how to experience victory over sin.