PRISON CHURCH TRANSFORMING LIVES- Tautunu Tanuvasa tells of finding God

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PRISON CHURCH TRANSFORMING LIVES- Tautunu Tanuvasa tells of finding God - Prison Church Transforming Lives : By Nadine W....
Prison Church Transforming Lives : By Nadine W. Scott 1 I. Slnr-Bulletm Slnr-Bulletm Slnr-Bulletm Writer Inmate Tautunu Tanuvasa says Oahu Community Correctional Center "today is so mellow," "A lot of good things are happening happening in this prison. There's less tension. . ." That's the way Tanuvasa, serving serving time for armed robbery, sees it from the inside. "When other people blow, we flovi," Tanuvasa says. He's speaking about himself and the other inmates who have committed their lives to Christ and who work with Chaplain Rick Bartosik in the Church Behind Behind Bars. Bartosik, state chaplain for the Division of Corrections for seven years, came to Hawaii when the state asked the Good News Mission, Mission, which provides chaplains and Bible study courses to prisons and jails throughout the world, to send a minister. He has seen the prison population go from about 250 to more than 1,000. BARTOSIK'S JOB is "to effectively effectively reach each man with the gospel of Jesus Christ," something he seems to have done with Tanuvasa, who is one of his assistants.' assistants.' "God is working behind the scenes," Tanuvasa said, "and it's not; reported in the media. You always hear about the negative things that happen and it's just one guy acting up one rotten apple." Tanuvasa is relaxed and affable with the chaplain who later explained explained that the inmate was once one of the most violent men, in prison, "one of the bulls, but he now has a calming force that is felt throughout the prison." "A year or so ago there was a lot of unrest after the shakedown and a potential for rioting, but we took prayer requests from the guards and the inmates and got together to pray over these things and it was tremendous," Bartosik said. "Paul says Christians are called to a ministry of reconciliation and I've seen reconciliation between between the guards and the prisoners prisoners and the prisoners and the administration, Bartosik said. BARTOSIK INVITED the Fellowship Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers Officers and their wives, the staff and guards to a gathering inside the prison with the inmates, called called "the brothers," about three , weeks ago. "And afterward one of the guards came up to one of our brothers and said, T came here to influence you, but you have influenced influenced me and I want Christ as my savior.' He wept and opened his heart to Christ, Bartosik said. "Yeah," said Tanuvasa. "In the last couple of years things have really turned around in here. You no longer have to stay tough. And no , particular group runs things. These prisoners can be turned upside down for Jesus Christ." Tanuvasa's work is in ceramics, coffee mugs and urns and vases that he embellishes with quotes from scripture or religious symbolism. symbolism. Yet five years ago this 32-year-old 32-year-old 32-year-old 32-year-old 32-year-old from American Samoa spent eight months in solitary confine ment and was at the end of his rope. "My life had no hope, no meaning, meaning, no purpose. One of the most terrible things is to be alone with your thoughts." Then someone gave him a Bible with his name engraved on the cover and he began reading. "Can God forgive me what I've done? God spoke to me and I fell on my knees on the concrete floor and I was no longer a tough guy. The spirit of the Lord was on me and my whole life was changed," Tanuvasa said. IT WAS DIFFERENT for Phil Riturban, another inmate who has become assistant to the chaplain. chaplain. "I was enrolled in a drug rehabilitation rehabilitation program in the community community and one man used to come in with a Bible, but I didn't want to know, didn't want to even talk about it. "When I came to prison in 1979, the very first day I was in the diagnostic holding unit, that man came in. "It was Harry Fujihara. He's with Youth Crusade and he goes to Makiki Christian Church. I told him to sit down. It's time we talked." talked." Fujihara is one of many volunteers volunteers who make the prison their beat. Bartosik has recruited and trained 300 Christians who call regularly at the prison to do one-to-one one-to-one one-to-one one-to-one one-to-one counseling with the inmates. inmates. They are part of the larger network network that reaches inside the prison walls from the community at large. At Kalihi Union Church, enough money was collected to buy the Church Behind Bars a new piano. George Shimabuku from Kapiolani Bible Church has been involved for at least the last seven years and does counseling every Thursday evening. RITURBAN'S JOB is to coordinate coordinate the Bible study program for inmates, getting 1,200 lessons a month to the prisoners. Last year, 11,444 lessons were completed by inmates at the prison, at Halawa High Security Facility, at the Women's Correctional Unit and the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. Those who complete the course either the Good News Mission correspondence course or courses from the Navigators, Moody Bible Institute or Emmaus Bible Correspondence Correspondence School receive a certificate and a Bible. Riturban collects the Good News lesson reviews, most with multiple-choice multiple-choice multiple-choice questions, and sends them to be corrected by volunteers at First Presbyterian Church and Bethel Bible Church in Wahiawa. Lots of other Christians in the community make their contribution contribution to the quality of life in prison. Diane Bartosik, the chaplain's wife, makes time from her work as a flight attendant to conduct a weekly Bible study class for wives of the inmates. Nuuanu Baptist Church gave the Church Behind Bars an expensive video machine and First Chinese Church of Christ contributed the television so inmates inmates can see "some of the most outstanding Christian videotapes in the world," Bartosik said. Soturday, June 4, 1983 Honolulu Star-Bulletin Star-Bulletin Star-Bulletin A-J A-J A-J 7 cMiiisr i s " v. mm f CHURCH BEHIND BARS Inside Oahu Community Correctional Correctional Center, Chaplain Rick Bartosik meets with two of his inmate assistants, Phil Riturban, left, and Tautunu Tanuvasa. Star-Bulletin Star-Bulletin Star-Bulletin Photo by John Titchen. r Thp ihiprf k Rpligion YT -

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  1. Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
  2. 04 Jun 1983, Sat,
  3. Page 5

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