“Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
“Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
“The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Sometimes people need a helping hand following a lifetime of bad choices that lands them behind bars. And, while all can not or will not be helped, Pastor Payne Montgomery and the North Louisiana Community Enhancement Coalition have made it part of their motto to try to at least give the men incarcerated at the Morehouse Parish Detention Center the tools needed to see a different way of life.
"Part of our motto comes from Matthew 25:34 - 40," Montgomery said. "This verse tells us we are to help 'the least of these,' and by being able to go in a preach to these men, we are fulfilling that duty."
One of those Montgomery along with the Rev. Armstrong have witnessed to and counseled with is Robert Henry, who is a Morehouse Parish native and has been in and out of jail many times over the past several years due to an addiction.
"Robert was one of the leading persons attending church services every Sunday," Montgomery said. "I was impressed with his desire to lead a Christian life and we were able to talk with the District Attorney and get him some counseling and another chance to be a productive member of society."
When Henry was released from jail, he did not have any place to go, so the NLCEC offered to let him stay in an apartment it owned. With a small grant from Home Depot and donations from local organizations including Solomon Loche Post 501, the apartment, which is designated for homeless veterans, was rehabbed and Henry moved in.
An Army veteran, Henry was introduced to drugs while stationed in Germany and the habit was one he returned home with.
"When I got out of the service, I came back to Bastrop and couldn't find a permanent job," Henry said. "So, I moved to Dallas for a while but returned when my mother got sick."
Page 2 of 2 - Still unable to find anything other than odd and end jobs and still supporting a drug habit, it wasn't long before Henry found himself back in jail.
"I have been a Christian since I was 9 years old," Henry said. "I have always had Jesus in my heart, but the drugs won out most of the time.
"I asked God while I was in jail to take the desire I had for drugs away, and he did," Henry continued. "It can be done and you can stay clean when you stay on the right path and in church."
Henry said he had been through 12-step programs and rehab, but would go right back to using.
"It takes God to release you from your burden," Henry said. "Everyday is a process and the devil will come at you everyday."
"Minister Montgomery and Rev. Armstrong have helped me so much and I am so appreciative to them for that as well as for believing in me," Henry said. "I also am thankful to Mr. Jones for giving me a second chance."
"We are so thankful that Sheriff Tubbs and the warden allow us to go in and minister to these men," Montgomery said.
"People say I will backslide, but I know in my heart, this is for real," Henry concluded.