August 12, 2009 Edition

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Spurlock is faithful to jail ministry

Lowell Spurlock of the Egypt area visits the Lawrence County Jail each Wednesday afternoon. He takes those housed in the jail reading material such as newspapers and Bibles and prays or talks with those who are interested.

John Bland

Each Wednesday afternoon, Lowell Spurlock stops by the office of The Times Dispatch, gets the latest edition and takes it, along with other reading material, to those incarcerated in the Lawrence County Jail.

His wife, Maudie, says her husband has been involved in this jail ministry for 10 years. Both Lowell and Maudie, who live in the Egypt area, are Gideons, so he said he also carries a couple of small Gideon new testament Bibles, along with other Christian reading material and recent copies of The Jonesboro Sun.

The response he gets from the inmates is mostly good, Spurlock said. "They look forward to me coming."

"When he comes to their door, he is welcomed by those in the jail," said Captain Jody Dotson of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department. "He spends a lot of time with the guys. He's a regular."

"If somebody wants a prayer, I'll offer one ... I don't hold back," said Spurlock, who is a trained lay speaker with the United Methodist Church.

While some of those in the jail do not want to discuss religion or have prayer, most are open to it, he said. "I run into those that never went to church."

"I've visited with some good ones, and I've visited with some bad ones, some with short sentences and some with long ones," he said. "I see some that change and some that don't."

Sometimes those confined at the jail will ask Spurlock to call a sick grandmother or ask him to let a girlfriend or parents know their whereabouts. "I don't mind, it doesn't cost much," he said.

Spurlock said he got involved in the prison ministry when Michael Smith, a former pastor of Sedgwick United Methodist Church, sought volunteers to start such a ministry. Other pastors have come and gone, but Spurlock has continued the ministry.

"That's the pride of his life - helping people," said his wife, who is very supportive of his efforts.

"I tell the young ones to get out and go to work and pay Social Security so that my wife and I can keep drawing it," Spurlock said. "You boys are just wasting your time here," he adds.

Spurlock, who is 83 years old, retired from farming eight years ago. "My wife farmed right long with me," he said, adding that she could drive any kind of tractor that came along. Lowell and the former Maudie Jordan have been married for 59 years and spent most of their married lives, except for six years in St. Louis, in this area. Spurlock also spent time driving a bus route for the Westside School.

The Spurlocks have a daughter, Monica Pierce, who is a nurse in Clarksville. Their son, Calvin Lowell Spurlock, was killed in a vehicle accident at age 22.

Spurlock recalls that at age 16, he was converted to serve God while at the Old Walnut Ridge Methodist Church. Despite difficulties and challenges through the years, his faith remains strong and inspires him to keep active, serve others and to share that faith today.

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