Prison chaplain speaks at Brown Bag

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 23, 2019

To tell a man to pull himself up by his bootstraps is senseless if the man has no boots.

That was the message Anthony Askew shared with the participants at the March Brown Bag lunch at the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library in Brundidge.

Askew is a chaplain at Easterling Correctional Center in Clio. He is there because he believes that every man deserves an opportunity to know about God and that a relationship with Jesus Christ can be the means by which to pull himself up, boots or no boots.
Askew was called to the ministry when he was 16 years. He worked as a youth minister in New York City with about 3,000 young people under his influence. In 1982, he moved to Birmingham to serve as a pastor. But he had his own plans to go to college and become a psychologist.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“But that was not what God wanted me to do,” Askew said. “After struggling with my decision, I was ready to do what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to be a chaplain.”
As a chaplain, Askew said his mission is to help the men who are in prison to realize that they must be willing to help themselves.

“Fredrick Douglas said a man must be willing to fight for himself. A man cannot stay in low places. He must get up and fight back, again and again.”

Askew said it is difficult for a man to get back up when he has been put down and is willing to stay down.

“Getting up and staying up requires that a man make right decisions every day,” Askew said.

“One wrong can mess you up. You can do one wrong thing, make one wrong decision, and that will mess you up and it could mess you up for a long time or a life time.”

Askew said prisons are filled with men and women who made one wrong decision.

“I tell men that are in prison that you are not the only one here that has made a wrong decision,” he said. “And, you don’t have to be the only one not to do what you can to make it right.

“Prison is not an easy place; it’s a hard place to be. Chaplains have an opportunity to help people change their lives. After an inmate has done his time and goes free, he needs a support network – family, friends, anyone who will take an interest and provide emotional support that will keep him from making another wrong decision that will put him behind bars again.”

Askew said faith and belief in God will put a man on the right path and that is the message he takes into the prison.

“The law requires that every prisoner has the right to practice his own religion,” he said. “And that law must be upheld. Prisoners sometimes use that right to their benefit. Those what practice the Jewish faith are allowed to wear beards. So, some prisoners are changing their religion so they can have a beard.

“In every prison, ever person has a right to practice their religion, with one exception, Satanism. That is not allowed.”

Askew said laws can change but one thing will not change.

“God is always there for us if only we ask,” he said. God will provide the help and comfort a man needs when he truly seeks forgiveness and has a heart for what right.”