Chaplain David L. Cheyne
David Cheyne was raised and ministered on the foreign mission field (Africa, Europe, the Caribbean). He now finds joy in serving in the mission field of Virginia’s state prisons as both a chaplain and the Faith Based Re-Entry Manager for the programs at Deep Meadow Correctional Center.
Chaplain David Cheyne has been called to the mission field since birth. he grew up as the son of Baptist missionaries in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Chaplain Cheyne returned to the mission field serving first in Kenya, and then later after seminary in France and Martinique. After returning to the United States to pastor a church in the Richmond area he volunteered in prison.
Later, after receiving a Masters in Patient Counseling at VCU Medical School, Chaplain Cheyne’s interest in chaplaincy took a natural turn and he contacted GraceInside. Joining GraceInside in June of 2009, he became the chaplain at Deep Meadow Correctional Center, a level 2 security facility with over 800 men. Chaplain Cheyne, since June of 2015, also serves as the Faith Based Reentry Program Manager operating the sole faith-based reentry program in the state penal system.
“There were already a number of programs in place when I got to Deep Meadow” reports Chaplain Cheyne. “We had volunteers from five or six churches that came out to Deep Meadow, but now we have volunteers from at least 12 different churches.” With worship services every night, counseling daily, and 3-4 Bible Studies a week, Chaplain Cheyne is fully engaged with the work. “The Lord has blessed us with a great religious library and a Bible College on campus where the men can pursue various degrees in Theological studies. We also have a number of special events throughout the year. Approximately 50 to 60 professions of faith are made each year.” Dedicated efforts are also made to disciple and develop spiritual leadership among the men. “We have been able to ordain five men into the ministry, one of which returned to society and is involved in ministry! We’ve had a few gang members come to know the Lord. God is doing a great work among us.”
Chaplain Cheyne shares a story of a member of a faith group typically diametrically opposed to the Christian faith. “I began to build a rapport with their leadership and get into discussions with these particular individuals. I often challenge them to read the Bible and discuss issues with me. One in particular agreed to do so, but I discovered later that it was only to learn how to better undermine the Christians on campus, however, in the process, he actually became convicted and decided to make his confession of faith in front of his own faith group brothers, knowing that they might rise up and beat him. They told him he was free to believe whatever he wanted and now he walks with us.”
“Chaplaincy isn’t a high paying job and often much patience is needed to work within the penal system, but when someone turns to the Lord and begins to have and inner peace even in their surroundings, to the point where they also begin sharing their faith with others who are incarcerated, it really gives me a sense that I am where God wants me to be.” Chaplain Cheyne is so committed to this and to their success, when not working part-time at Deep Meadow, he developed a 501(c)3 called Bridge 2 Hope. “I help a few of the guys with their reentry process when they get out. Right now I’m helping about six guys in their first year out – to locate housing, jobs, and a connection to a local church.”
Chaplain Cheyne and his wife, Penny, are also involved in several small home Bible Study groups, along with other activities in their local church. When not working within ministry, they also enjoy “good movies, good music, or a meal with friends and family.” A favorite place to visit in their off time is the beach. In addition to his beloved wife, Chaplain Cheyne has an adult son, John-Paul, who is married to Alma and they have one daughter, Maya.