Christ UMC Sugarland Member Given National Prison Fellowship Award

Date Posted: 1/12/2011

Robert Crenshaw, a member of Christ UMC of Sugar Land, was recently awarded the National Prison Fellowship Shining Star Award.  This award recognizes a select few of the outstanding employees and volunteers who serve in Prison Ministries all over the United States.


It is based on significant contributions made to further Christ UMC Sugarland’s Prison Fellowship’s mission which is, to seek the transformation of prisoners and their reconciliation to God, family, and community through the power and truth of Jesus Christ.   


Robert has volunteered with the Restorative Justice Ministries of Christ Church for nearly 12 years.  Only Prison Fellowship staff may recommend names to the National Committee for consideration and Robert was nominated by Ron Zifer, Program Manager at the Carol Vance Unit located near Hwy 90 and 99. 


Following are some highlights from Ron’s nomination letter….


Robert Crenshaw has volunteered religiously for 12 years giving some 1,500 plus hours annually here at Carol Vance.  One of the many ways Robert volunteers is through Toastmasters.  Many men coming to prison only know one way to communicate – the way it was done on the streets.  Personalities change as men see that God has tools to help them express their feelings to another without resorting to anger or violence.  Robert’s facilitation in the Toastmaster’s process brings about the order, structure, and self discipline that is so vital to opening hearts to the Holy Spirit and to achieving success in society.   He has functioned as Kairos leader and the Alpha coordinator – two programs that bring men to understand Christ’s healing power and family reintegration and bonding.  As a case manager, Robert builds trust and offers hope to men preparing to release.  His time here also includes group mentoring, one-on-one mentoring, Embracing the Father class, art classes and grounds beautification projects.  He has also helped carry the financial burden of the ministry as a key donor. 


Recently, Robert elevated his commitment another notch as he completed training and is now a Certified Volunteer Chaplain Assistant - an exclusive membership for the State of Texas.  This certification enables Robert to perform many functions within the prison that only officers of the state can normally perform.   And twice a week Robert rolls through Carol Vance with a cooler loaded with bottles ice-cold water which he brings as a gesture of appreciation and kindness for the unit‘s security staff.  And kindness tends to be contagious. This is the beauty and true purpose behind his, “Cool Water Ministries.” 


Asked why he volunteers so much of his time, he said, ? “I enjoy being here (and) I experience God through volunteer work”.  Robert shared the fact that years ago he immersed himself in his volunteer activities shortly after he lost his wife. He couldn‘t fight back a tear as he told his story.  His family once consisted of his wife and four children. His new family is considerably larger.  He is loved and appreciated by many at the Carol Vance Unit — members and officers alike.


While Robert is happy and proud to get this award, his greater passion is to see more people get involved in this ministry that has captured his heart. His hope is that it would inspire others to experience the joy in service at Carol Vance. For information on the powerful, restorative work being done at Carol Vance which results in healed families and lasting crime prevention, contact Christ UMC at 281-980-6888.