Chaplain Paul Griffith
Paul Griffith is in his 13th year as a Correctional Chaplain, and his passion is winning souls to Christ. Paul enjoys reading and playing golf, and he and his lovely wife, Kathy, have been married for 38 years.
“I am a servant of the Lord trying to be about my Father’s business. That’s the story of my life!” For Chaplain Paul Griffith, if service to the Lord is the story, service to the incarcerated is a theme throughout many chapters. First serving as a volunteer in the regional jail, he began as a chaplain with GraceInside in August of 2001. Chaplain Griffith served more than four years as chaplain to Keen Mountain Correctional Center. In October of 2007, he began his service to Marion Correctional Treatment Center.
Chaplain Griffith came to prison ministry by way of hospital chaplaincy and his church. The search for a new chaplain at Keen Mountain led someone to recommend Chaplain Griffith. “God opened the door and I was able to step through. I prayed about it. God was able to give me peace when I came into the facility. I sensed the calling of God for me to be there and to make a difference.” In his time at Keen Mountain he is especially proud to have baptized 50 residents and instituted a Kairos ministry that continues today.
Chaplain Griffith knows God has placed him in prison to “reach out to the hurting, offer hope to the hopeless, [and] shine the light of Christ to their spiritual darkness.” Early on, men would come to Chaplain Griffith and share their hearts. Not seeing them follow up with church attendance, he began to ask them, “Why aren’t you attending? Over and over again, I heard he heard the men say, “I don’t feel worthy.”
Chaplain Griffith began to wrestle with that question himself. “What do I say to a man who says he is not worthy to come to church?” But one night, he was wakened at 2 AM with this answer…”I don’t love you because you are worthy, you are worthy because I love you.” He tells the men their worth comes because we belong to him.
His favorite part of the work? “I tell people about Jesus. I love introducing people to Jesus.” I ask the men two questions. First, do you have peace and joy in your life? Are you comfortable with where you are? When they are able to tell me they have peace and joy even though they are incarcerated – but they recognize that the incarceration is a consequence of their own actions – I know it mattered. They know they have been forgiven for their actions but the consequence remains.”
When not in Marion Correctional Treatment Center, Chaplain Griffith serves as the pastor of two churches, Byars-Cobbs United Methodist in Glade Spring and Lebanon United Methodist in Meadowview. He and his wife, Kathy, are active in the community helping, too. Chaplain Griffith volunteers as the chaplain at the Glade Spring Food Bank where they prepare 150-175 boxes of food for families each month.