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When an Email to an Inmate Leads to Tears of Gratitude and Joy


Robby Burke serves as GraceInside’s Chaplain at Augusta Correctional Center (ACC).  He combines his unique gifts of caring, compassion, wisdom and humor in his important ministry to the nearly 1,300 incarcerated men that make up his “flock” at this large state prison.  Robby’s wife Karen is also a Chaplain, but at an adult residential facility.  Those that know Robby and Karen can tell you that they always work together as a TEAM, supporting each other and assisting with aspects of each other’s ministries.

During the 16 long months when COVID-19 shut our chaplains out of the state prison facilities, Chaplain Burke labored away, doing his best to provide “ministry from a distance” to the men at Augusta.  His passion and compassion for his flock continued to burn brightly, and at times he felt intense guilt and a real urgency to get back into the facility.  It was tough going, but he couldn’t stop caring and he refused to give up.  During these dark and intense times, Robby and Karen Burke spent endless hours writing and sending emails to the inmates at Augusta.  They offered words of hope and encouragement, asked for prayer requests, etc.  These outreach efforts were not in vain.  During some of the darkest days of the pandemic, we received this testimony from Chaplain Robby Burke (about an email from one of the ACC inmates that emailed him back to thank him for caring).

Chaplain Robby Burke wrote:  “I just want to share with you something that really lifted my spirit today. As you know, Karen and I have been sending in weekly email messages to many of the men at ACC. I received the following email response today from one of the inmates:”

Dear Chaplain Burke,
I want to thank you and your wife for riding out the storm with us, the men here at ACC. I don’t think you guys realize the type of impact you have had on our spiritual, emotional and psychological well-being.  We are so fortunate to have you and the Mrs. supporting and lifting us up with the wisdom of GOD.  You have saved many lives!  I don’t think you know the impact you have had.  I know guys who were suicidal, and you saved them!  Thank you so much, Chaplain!

Robby shared: “I wrote back to my inmate Brother who sent the email and asked for his permission to share it with others – specifically with supporters of GraceInside. He replied, and not only did he give his permission, but he added more to his sentiments. See below:

Chaplain, anything I write to you is okay for you to share.  I don’t mind.  I don’t think you and Mrs. Burke realize the impact those emails have had – even on guys who don’t even believe in Christ!  I work in the dining hall, and we often read those email messages to each other.  Sometimes we grown men can’t help but CRY!  Muslims, Jews, atheists, and even some of the guys that are gang affiliated talk about the emails giving them HOPE, especially when these cell walls feel like they are closing in.  Thank you, and I hope you never stop sending those emails.  We hear you.

Beloved GraceInside Friends & Family, it is because of YOU and YOUR faithful, generous support that Chaplains like Robby Burke can continue to bring LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS!!!  During this Christmas season, would you pray about a donation of any size (large or small) that will help us provide MORE Chaplains and MORE Chaplain ministry hours into our state prisons?  Or perhaps you might want to become a monthly partner with us in this vital ministry.  Together, we can change hearts and lives, bringing God’s amazing love, grace and hope (the Light that is Christ) inside the prison walls and bars to the incarcerated men and women that SO need His love!

Read more stories:

“Arms Open Wide”

An Easter Poem by Merissa Lee Kelley His arms were stretched to nail to the crossBut they would have reached out in

Please consider a special one-time Christmas offering to GraceInside (be it large or small),
and also pray about becoming a monthly sponsor/donor.
Thank you in advance for your generosity and support!