A local prison ministry chaplain who has a church in Honesdale, expects to partner with TV celebrity Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame.
The chaplain, C. J. Messina, says that Roberston has offered to conduct an evangelistic crusade with him in northeast Pennsylvania, with full proceeds going back to the prison ministry and work done here to help people overcome addictions.
"Duck Dynasty" is a reality television program featured on the A&E network. Playing on the humor of red-neck persona, the show features Phil Robertson and members of his family. Robertson made his wealth from creating a popular duck call and founding the Duck Commander company, producer of products for duck hunters. The company, and TV show, are based in West Monroe, Louisiana. Since premiering in 2012, "Duck Dynasty" has reportedly broken several ratings records on both A&E and cable television as a whole. The fourth season premiere drew 11.8 million viewers, the most-watched nonfiction cable telecast in history, according to The New York Times.
Messina conducts Lost & Found Fellowship, a church at 616 Main St. Suite 203 in Honesdale, in the old Murray store building. The church moved there from Milford in July 2012. Their Sunday service starts at 12 noon.
He explained how he and the star of Duck Dynasty came together.
The Carbondale resident oversees a correspondence ministry to inmates in about 200 county, state and federal prisons across 33 states. Working with a vendor, he sends inmates free Bibles and related books and materials, at their request, free of charge. He also personally hand writes letters to the inmates, who he said has numbered over one thousand, contacting him for a Bible or spiritual guidance. Messina said that managing the correspondence takes up about four to five hours a day.
This all began with his own spiritual journey. A retired New York City policeman, Messina was working as a teacher at the Pike County Correctional Facility. He said he was as an agnostic, but received witness to the faith he now embraces, from inmates at the prison in Pike County. Messina noted the irony, of being a retired cop and receiving spiritual instruction from those locked up.
That was in 2005. Feeling a sense of indebtedness to those in prison, Messina said that the next year he began the Lost & Found/Jesus Christ Evangelistic Prison Ministry by corresponding with one inmate from Pike who went on to state prison.
Phil Robertson and other family members attend the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe. Messina stated that Robertson learned of the prison ministry and was impressed that so much was being done from a small church, to help prison inmates at no cost. The ministers of the church contacted Messina and invited him to visit, even paying for his air fare.
Page 2 of 2 - The ministers, Robert Ables and Gordon Dasher, introduced him to Robertson, who is an elder at their church.
Messina said he went with no expectations and thought the meeting with Robertson would take about five minutes; instead it lasted nearly two hours, in Robertson's home.
Lost & Found Fellowship in Honesdale has also been planning to start a local chapter of "Celebrate Recovery (C.R.)", a 12-step Christian-based program for people with addictions of any kind.
It turns out that Robertson also publicly endorses the program and the White's Ferry church has an active C.R. chapter.
Robertson offered to come and conduct a one-day crusade, at a suitable arena, without charging a speaker's fee. Offerings raised at the crusade will be turned over to the prison ministry and the C.R. chapter scheduled to begin in November, at Lost & Found Fellowship, Messina said.
The TV celebrity typically gets as many as 10,000 people at a speaking engagement, Messina said, so he is currently seeking a suitable arena for Robertson to hold the crusade. He said he expects this will come about within "a few months."
With great enthusiasm, Messina states that never dreamed this would come about, and said the "bottom line is to bring glory to God."
For more information, contact Messina at 570-575-8913 or visit online at www.lostandfoundpikecounty.com.