Born again in the Butler County Jail

Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alvin Davis was there the day his nephew was arrested.He was also there the day he was saved.

“I never thought I’d see this happen,” said Davis. He wiped away tears and so did much of the congregation watching as a 26-year-old man wearing the orange pants of a prisoner pronounced his commitment to Jesus Christ.

Christopher Ainsworth was baptized on Tuesday. It happened at the most unlikeliest of places: the Butler County Correctional Facility, in a courtyard surrounded by razor wire where a black tub held the baptismal waters and people gathered around it in folding chairs.

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But there was a church there. There was a preacher. And there was singing.

Rev. Herbert Brown leaned Ainsworth back into the water and brought him back out, born again. The Southside Baptist Church congregation sang “Amazing Grace.” Ainsworth thanked them all for coming and received hugs from many of the same people who’d taught him Sunday School as a little boy.

And he received a hug from his uncle as well.

“That made me feel real good,” Ainsworth said.

Convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to 18 months incarceration following his arrest in February, Ainsworth recalled the morning police officers served him with a warrant. It happened during a citywide crackdown on drug dealers by Greenville police.

“It was a surprise,” he said. “I woke up that morning and had just got of the shower and the next thing I know the police is at my door.”

While sitting in jail, Ainsworth was visited by Royce Hall, a minister and Gideon. It took just one action by Hall to turn Ainsworth’s life around.

“He put a Bible in my hand and I just started crying,” said Ainsworth.

Hall remembered that day in March well.

He was there on Tuesday also.

“Seeing something like this just warms you up…every time someone says ‘yes’ to Christ,” said Hall. “I knew right then and there when I put that Bible in Chris’s hand he was going to accept Christ as his savior.”

Capt. Al McKee called Ainsworth a model prisoner. He’s currently on work release and is employed by his uncle’s electrical business.

“I’m very proud of Chris because I remember how he used to be,” said McKee. “I want to thank Sheriff (Kenny) Harden also for being open-minded about helping to change lives through the jail ministry.”

When his time is served, Ainsworth knows there will be temptations outside of jail.

“I just have to stay in church and stay around positive people,” he said. “That’s how I got in trouble…running with the wrong people. There’s temptation in here…I’m tempted everyday, but I’ve learned to forgive people and walk away from it.”