Jared and Tara Lax have been active members of First Baptist Dallas since 2008, and they continue to stay because of a connection beyond Sunday morning service. The Lax’s are highly involved in their Sunday School class because this particular group of believers was who they could lean on while struggling with losing both of their parents within a year. The couple has a deep love and appreciation for the Special Needs Ministry because of their 10-year-old son, Christian, who has autism, and they intrust the leaders to teach him the Word of God in a safe environment. Finally, they find themselves drawn to serve within the Prison Ministry because of a past that has blossomed into a ministry opportunity used to glorify God.
Jared struggled with drug addiction most of his life. As a result, he was going in and out of prison until he said, “God got ahold of me and changed me.” Despite his many life-and-death experiences with law enforcement and drugs, he now uses his background to share the gospel with incarcerated people.
Jared and Tara are leaders within First Baptist Dallas’ Prison Ministry, and they are even starting a new class called Freedom in Christ, where they will be face-to-face with those in prison at the Hudson State Jail every Thursday. The couple explained how there are over 200 men who willingly sign up to be in what’s called a “faith-based dorm” at the jail, which means they agree to learn Christian morals and values. Jared openly said, “I went through this program a while back. Having gone through it, many men are giving their life to Christ in the middle of the program.” Various churches participate, and First Dallas is humbled to be one of those groups where men can ask questions about biblical beliefs and God’s Word.
Tara has stood by Jared’s side every step of the way and has used her strength to inspire others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. She talked about one time, in particular, inside the prison walls, where she ministered to a woman who had only ever treated her Bible sessions as a social hour. Still, Tara said, “one night, I opened up the floor for testimony and life-changing stories. I decided to give my testimony.” Tara said she returned the following week, and the woman committed herself to Christ. Tara continued to say, “Some people go for the wrong intentions, but God reaches them. Sometimes when you don’t have a plan, it allows the spirit to move, and He does his work, and that’s when you see the most heart cries and testimonies.”
Similarly, Jared described many instances while volunteering in the Prison Ministry but reflected on a time during his incarceration when he shared the gospel. Using the same literature that the Freedom in Christ class will use, Jared felt guided by the Holy Spirit to speak with a fellow inmate who was a large former boxer, a loner, and struggled with mental health issues. To Jared’s surprise, the inmate agreed to work through the course’s steps and to pray. Within a day, the two men worked through the entire workbook. The man stopped taking medication and accepted Christ. Jared described the experience saying, “you could visibly see this guy change from a walking zombie to a normal person with a sound mind.” He continued, “If you know the truth, He will set you free,” He said it was awesome to see the transformation happen before him.
Jared learned from his time incarcerated that once you realize you have a choice, instead of the lies you had been believing, you can be set free. Now Jared and his wife, Tara, are passionate about teaching, sharing the gospel, forming relationships, and making a difference in the lives of others.
The Church is called to minister to the lost and broken, knowing that just as Christ has changed so many inside the Church, He also desires to change those still suffering from the consequences of past mistakes, whether in a cell or halfway home. We ask that you continue to pray for the Lax’s, the First Baptist Dallas Prison Ministry, and the lives that they are reaching. If you are interested in volunteering, reach out to our Prison Ministry Coordinator, Anna Schaefer, at email@example.com.