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Main Thing First helps families break unwanted patterns

Main Thing First is a new nonprofit community service organization that strives to support families whose loved ones are incarcerated. The are working toward reducing recidivism and empowering the children of inmates to be able to make better choices for their future. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Ron Biggers started Main Thing First four months ago, but he’s no novice when it comes to helping the incarcerated and their families.

“I have been prison chaplain at Grace Community Church for the last 14 years,” he said. “In that time, talking to a large number of men, some of their families – wives, girlfriends and kids, I developed a heart for that population but I really didn’t know what to do.”

He began his journey helping the community during a spiritual retreat.

“I went on the Walk to Emmaus,” Biggers said. “During that event there was a time when you visited with a pastoral advisor. During that event I became a broken and weak man. I prayed a similar prayer to what Isaiah prayed ‘God if there’s something for me to do, send me.’ When I returned to Roswell I resigned the children’s ministry. I still didn’t know what to do. The mission pastor at Grace invited me to go out to the prison. I reluctantly went, and I was hooked on that activity and I did that for 14 years.”

Biggers said God is leading him through this journey.

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“The Lord led me to start this non-profit,” he said, “to minister to that population. We need prayer from everyone. We need to be totally saturated in prayer.”

Main Thing First needs much the same kind of support that more non-profit organizations need.

“All non-profits need a steady flow of good volunteers to help support them,” Biggers said. “I need them to do things that I have no idea how to do. Obviously we need financial support.”

Biggers said that his experienced through Grace Community Church inspired this part of his path.

“One thing that helped in the formation of this ministry,” he said, “here at Grace we have helped a number of families that have loved ones who have been incarcerated. We were able to help one person find a part-time job, child care while she works and we were able to put her in a late-model vehicle so she can take her kids to go see their father. She put a minimum amount in it to show good faith. We covered the rest.

“If one church can do something like this for one family, if the community pulls together, there’s no telling how many people we can help.”

Biggers said this is bigger than any church, it is for the entire community.

“We are faith based,” he said, “but we also believe in what Jesus said “The greatest commandment is to love your Lord God with all your soul, all your heart and your might and love your brother as yourself.” Everyone in this community is our brother.

“I have purposely separated Main Thing First from Grace and other churches because I don’t want this to be seen as just a church ministry. It’s going to take all the churches, all the civic clubs and public services to help build our community.”

Biggers said he is looking for people who are called to help this program serve as well as donations.

“I’m looking for people to help lead and take up the major portion,” he said. “Somewhere I read where God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. You have no idea how much I am counting on that. We’re hoping to get a large van to use to take families to see incarcerated loved ones.”

The chairman of the board of directors has been of immense help to Biggers.

“Pastor Joe Diaz is the chairman of the board,” Biggers said. “He has a home for men, most of them are there to finish out their probation. He houses the men and they go through training for 12 to 18 months or longer. Pastor Diaz will tell you he knows these men, not only from ministering to them, but he used to live that lifestyle himself. Joe has figured out that if a man can get his life morally straight everything else will soon fall into place. People are willing to offer that individual more opportunities.”

There have been a few local businesses open up to help mentor those being served, so that they can be more effective once they regain independence.

“Pioneer Bank is teaching the men in his home about handling money properly,” Biggers said. “Michael McKee teaches them how to get the insurance they need without getting more than they need. We are hoping and praying that other mentors will come on board.”

The key, biggers said, is relationship.

“If we build relationships with these families,” he said, “when that individual is released, there’s a better opportunity that he can reunite with his family. He can be the husband and the daddy that God meant him to be. We can start a re-entry process where he can find employment and that will make a stronger, safer community. Hopefully he will not return to jail or prison.”

The risk of doing nothing is unacceptably high.

“With his kids there’s a 65 percent chance of children who have an incarcerated parent going to jail,” Biggers said. “Sending an individual to jail is justifiable, but the cost to the community is $65,000 a year or more to keep an individual in jail. We probably are spending that much on social services to support his family.”

Biggers has plans to be a part of a community-wide change for the better.

“If we can stop the recidivism and keep the kids from following in daddy’s footsteps,” he said, “not only will it make for a safer stronger community, but also for those who are concerned with their tax dollars we can lower the tax burden. Then maybe that money could go into schools and education.”

Main Thing First can be reached by phone at: 575-317-3766, and by email at: Ronbiggers@mainthingfirst.com their website is still under construction but Biggers recommends checking it out, mainthingfirst.com. They are also on Facebook.

Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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