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Monday, May 2, 2016

Prison ministry brings hope to inmates

Thursday, December 18, 2008

(Photo)
Dennis Hobbs, Spoke-N-Word Ministries
THAYER -- Dennis Hobbs belongs to a prison ministry called Spoke-N-Word Ministry. He and several church members travel to area prisons spreading the word of God.

Hobbs lives on Chestnut Street in Thayer. He and his wife moved to Oregon County 16 years ago and bought a farm near Alton. They moved to Thayer six years ago.

He began attending church at The New Life Worship Center in Thayer. "We invited a preacher to our church from Berryville, Ark., Franklin "Bear" Brockman. Later he was voted as the minister of our church and still pastors a church in Berryville. He has brought a lot of things to our community including the Spoke-N-Word Ministry," Hobbs said.

Spoke-N-Word Ministry is a motorcycle ministry and a prison ministry. There are five chapters of the group in Missouri and Arkansas.

A team of 10 to 15 Spoke-N-Word members will go into a prison like the Northeast Arkansas Correctional Prison near Calico Rock, Ark., or Tucker Prison, also in Arkansas, and the inmates will gather at the church chapel.

"We have had as many as 100 inmates attend our services at these prisons. We start our service with music of praise. Some are old gospel tunes and other songs are more contemporary Christian music. Most prison officials tell us when our ministry comes to their prison the attendance in the chapel doubles," Hobbs said.

A couple of inmates have even moved to this area since being released and joined the church. One man plays the bass in the church's music ministry.

From time to time, the Spoke-N-Word Ministries take their word of the gospel on the road. "We call them meth rallies because that is one of the biggest drug problems around. We start with music and then ask that Jesus Christ be brought into their lives. I have seen many lost people change their life through our ministries. Most of these are people that others think don't have a chance. We also have bike rides where we try to meet the needs of people in need. Sometimes it's blankets, clothing or a utility bill that needs to be paid. The last motorcycle rally I attended was in Poplar Bluff. It was just a one-day event and there were 850 people there," Hobbs said.

Hobbs has not always been involved in the ministry as he is now. He suffered an experience that he believes has led him to where he is today. "I worked up north as a surveyor and civil engineer. My brain swelled in 1990. The doctors never did really determine why. My wife told me I flat-lined for over 20 minutes, which more or less meant I was dead. I was in a coma for three months, after that my life started to change," Hobbs said.

Hobbs appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show after his illness when she was doing a show called, Near Death Experiences.

"While I was in the coma, I could see myself at a river. There was a white light and an angel holding my hand. I looked across the water and it looked like pure silver, but when I looked down at the water it was crystal clear. I knew it was real. I also kept hearing music like millions of people singing. I still hear them in church today when I sing," he said.

Hobbs said while he was in the coma he could see his wife and six children, three girls and three boys standing at the end of his bed. "I cried because I felt separated from them," he said.

Hobbs is blessed to be alive and he knows it. His brain injury left him with no brain tissue on the left side of his brain and on the right side of his brain there is only a small active area. "Medically, I should not be functioning. I am only alive because of God and people who pray," he said.

Hobbs said his life has changed since his near death experience. "I have believed in God since I was 8-years-old but was not a regular church member until my illness," he said.

Hobbs has actually helped save several people's lives.

They call Hobbs McPastor at the Thayer McDonald's. "There was this fellow eating at McDonald's when a piece of food got lodged in his throat. I had been trained in first-aid and applied the heimlich maneuver. The piece of food came out and he got alright," he said.

Another time a fellow, a farmer from Thomasville, had an accident and he was stuck in his vehicle. Two other guys had stopped and tried to get him out. "They could not get the doors to budge. When I tried to open it, it just popped open. I called him Grandpa. I knew he had to be somebody's Grandpa. I could see the vein in his neck pumping very fast and I was afraid he was about to have a heart attack. As soon as I called him Grandpa he began to settle down," Hobbs said.

"Several years ago a lady and her son who was in his 20s had an accident on Highway 160. The son was ejected from the vehicle and was thrown about 100 feet. The mother was crying, fearing for her son's life. I went over to him and began talking to him telling him he needed to fight for his life that his mother was not ready to lose him. In a few minutes, he took a breath and was able to sit up. I went over and told his mom he was alright," Hobbs said.

"Those are just a few of the reasons I know there is a reason for me being here. I always seem to be able to help someone," he said.

Hobbs enjoys his prison ministry. "Prisoner is just a word. I learn something every time I go there. They are people that have just made a mistake. A few are hardened criminals and I am the only one some of them will talk to," he said.

"I am a child of God first. I'm not here to judge anybody. I do as much ministry work as possible. I always try to leave people thinking, 'Why does that guy like me?' I want to leave this earth making people aware that love covers many sins. We need to put down our stones," Hobbs said.

Hobbs doesn't have a motorcycle but is making payments on a used one. He says he only likes $400 and it will be his. He is looking forward to using it in the motorcycle ministry.



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