Supervising Chaplain Randy McDaniel (Western Region)
Chaplain Randy McDaniel serves River North Correctional Center, a level 4 facility, in Independence, Virginia. A graduate of Gardner-Webb University with his MDiv. in 2005 and DMin. in 2012, he’s been actively engaged in ministry far longer. Born in Big Stone Gap and living in Floyd, Chaplain McDaniel studied as far as the University of Wales but finds his home in southwest Virginia. This Hokie graduate has served as youth and senior pastor to churches in the area and currently serves Connect Community Church, a new church that meets at Floyd High School. Having served as interim at Bland Correctional Center, we welcome his experience as GraceInside’s first Supervising Chaplain of the Western Region. GraceInside and Chaplain McDaniel work tirelessly to improve and advance the mission of Jesus behind bars!
Chaplain McDaniel was seeking to serving bi-vocationally when the opportunity to serve River North came about. “I’ve always been a justice person. I feel a tremendous call to this. My whole journey has brought me to the values of truth, freedom and love that people can experience. I love direct ministry, the one-on-one with people. As introverted as I am, I find myself loving people more than I ever have. This is a very gratifying time of life. I’m finding healing in what I do well and enjoy doing. I find that when I am turned loose to minister, I love it. Months ago, I couldn’t imagine being in the midst of a group of inmates. Now, maybe I’m naive, but I love the security and enjoyment of running in the middle of it all.”
Chaplain McDaniel shared that his first experience inside a housing unit was a trip to segregation to visit the men. It seemed like utter madness. “They were yelling and it was loud – but I took time and went around and spoke to each man. It calmed right down. People arrested in jail or in prison need to know God loves and cares about them. I’m there to give that assurance and provide comfort. A lot of my job is prayer. I pray with and for people. I hope they realize that God loves them.”
With a bit of Pentecostal, Baptist and Methodist background, Chaplain McDaniel is enjoying worship with the men. “These guys can preach!” One experienced incarcerated Christian brother shared the following advice with Chaplain McDaniel, “Keep focused not on getting love but on giving love.” Chaplain McDaniel says that summed it up – a deep philosophy not to focus on how they treat you – but rather on how you treat others. Loving people. That’s the gig.”
An avid reader and researcher, Chaplain McDaniel is also a writer and has published a book (available on Amazon) called, “Why Am I Never Satisfied.” He enjoys his family, wife Melissa, and two young adult children, Nick and Rachel who are currently Hokies. Both kids are active in Young life and are terrific evangelists, “sold-out” for the Lord. Chaplain McDaniel could not be more proud.
We could not be more proud that he has joined our GraceInside family – and as his role expands, we are ever more grateful for his faithful and quality care. God has given Randy gifts and talents well suited to tend these sheep – and we are so thankful!