In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Highlight Devotion: Chaplain Blaire Smith


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

When Covid-19 locked down Marion Correctional Institution Chaplain Blaire Smith found a way to reach the 2,500 inmates he ministers to with the story of God’s love. Here is the story of Channel 39 and how an ELCA Covid Grant was leveraged to share the gospel.

Highlight Video: Chaplan Blaire Smith (Video – 6 min. 18 sec.)

Scripture: Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Reflection Questions:

  • Tell the story of when someone found a creative way to care for you in a time of need. What effect did that have on you?
  • Who in your community is at risk of the story of God’s love never being shared with them? What difference might it make if someone did?
  • Chaplain Blaire says he can only minister to 36 people in person, but everyday he reaches 2,500 through Channel 39. What is your parish doing differently for the sake of reaching people?
  • Isaiah 52 announces, how beautiful are the feet of the messenger. What is the good news that you believe people need to hear? How might you put feet on that message?

A Prayer from Chaplain Blaire Smith:

Abba Father, through ages you have reached out to those on the outskirts to change hearts. Through orphans, widows, downtrodden, and yes, even inmates that allow for the repentance and reconciliation. Many are called, few are chosen but those that respond, regardless of places, fill the many rooms in your heavenly kingdom as well as allow for your Word amongst difficult situations. Day to day ministry of grace with those who have fallen short of the civil law allows all to sing for your glory literally and in their living spaces, in the hearts. Lord when these men reenter society help the church be as helpful as when they are in. Let the people of God continue to help mentor children, especially those with difficult household situations in their communities; to let them hear the Word through love in the unconventional ways that are effective in prison; therapeutic relationship, faith-based mentoring, God-based multi-media. Praise the Lord oh my soul for your continued healing of all believers and the grace that transforms their lives! Amen.

Going Further:

To explore more about the criminal justice system from a faith perspective, read the ELCA’s social statement, The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries. Chaplain Smith is still running Channel 39. If you would like to share your worship service or contribute content contact Pastor Sarah Schaaf at sarah.schaaf@nwos-elca.org for more information.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction operates 26 state prisons and 3 juvenile detention centers. It is the 6th largest prison system in America. Marion Correctional Institution is a medium security prison that houses around 2,500 inmates. When covid-19 was introduced in the prison around 85% of the population was infected, resulting the death of 12 inmates and 1 employee.