Excerpt (approximately 7.5 minutes) from the oral history with Mother Consuella York, who was interviewed by Robert Shuster in 1988. The recording spans two audio tapes, T3 and T4. For more information about York, click here. Click to play the Consuella York excerpt on CN397T3 and T4

INTERVIEWER: What do you think is the things that somebody who's going to be in jail ministry from PHOTO FILE: Consuella York needs most? What...what should their personality be like?

YORK: Number one, they have to love people, the bottom line. Of course, but before that bottom line, they have to love Jesus and have a born again experience, not just a me...mediocre common...see, I mean really sure enough experience with the Lord, who know that they love God with all their heart. And their...their prime objective is that they love God. They've been saved. And then they have to feel a calling to this kind of ministry, 'cause it's a special kind of ministry. They have to be called. Everybody can't do jail work, because they can't deal with people of that category without becoming bitter or too soft, you know. So they have to have a leaning toward jail work, you know, who...someone who loves people, who...who loves souls, who wants to really do real...real spiritual farming, tearing [pounds repeatedly for emphasis] down the fallow ground of one's heart, and you.... I mean, that...that...that takes lot of heavy work to tear it down. And then after you tear it down to put the seed in, and then to water it, see. So they have to be born again, seriously, then have a love for souls, I mean, and have compassion. And then have wisdom how to...to...who...who...who don't mind the sacrifice, and who don't mind who gets credit for it, who's not looking for any...one of them said, "compensatory enumerations" [remunerations], or some might just say, "I'm gonna do it to help out," you know. Because it's not a glory job. It's not a popular job. It's...I mean, it's a sacrificial job. It's...sometime you won't see...in a...in a church, folk respond to you when you do good. Sometime you'll see some facing...looking at you, like they're not paying attention what you're saying. So, if your easily shook up and easily offended, you won't last long in jail work, 'cause sometime they be...they be washing clothes or watching the television, anything, you know, while you're teaching. And then if you're upsetting, if you're easily disturbed, you won't last long. A lot of folk come to jail. I mean, they've...they see...they see a little publicity about me. They say, "I think I'm going to do that kind of work. [watch alarm sounds]

INTERVIEWER: Go ahead, go ahead, go.

YORK: And, I mean, and they...they'll...they'll last a week or two, a month. Pretty soon they ain't come back no more, because it's not flowery, you from PHOTO FILE: Prisons--Missions and charities know. You don't see some immediate results. But if you stay long enough, you'll see some permanent results. I mean...I mean, as long as you don't care who gets credit for what [telephone rings] you're doing, you can do it. I mean...I mean, you...you have to take the brunt of the responsibility. Well, that's what Jesus did. He humbled himself. You have to humble yourself, [voices in the background] and...and...and deal with those who are considered incorrigible and whatnot. You have to be able to deal with them. Got to love people. [switch to T4] And a lot of...and basically, a lot of the people who go are folk who've formerly been there. And then they're...then they're... sometimes they are those who have families in jail who probably want to help. But a lot of times if they go with that method...that reason only, they don't last long. 'Cause after they see...they think they see some of that in their family, they said, "All the other boys in there are wrong, but my good boy, he hasn't done anything." But when you realize that...that...that except by the grace of God it would be us, then you can deal with all of them consistent. I deal with all of them, you know. I said at the outset that...that...that, "The Lord said, 'Suppose one of them was your sons.' Well, now, but if you've been lackadaisical parent or you've been a spoiling parent who...(they had no concern), your child's out of order, you...you wouldn't fit in good because you find yourself giving over, bending over." But I've been a stern disciplinarian all my life, you know. My...my father was a disciplinarian. You obeyed. "Yes sir, no sir," and what not. I mean, so you...you...you make them to obey. So I...I tell them...I said, "Now," (but you've got to know how to do it in love), I said, "Don't try it in my class." You know, you've got to love them and those you love you chastise [reference to Proverbs 13:24]. I don't let them get by. See, a lot of folk got spoiling, I mean, and...and...and they ruined them. You gotta know how to, you got to know when to...to...to...to...to chastise. You gotta know when to rebuke. You gotta know when to show love, you gotta.... And the Lord has to give you that kind of wisdom to do that. You can't do it on your own. See, being a mother, I...I...the Lord taught me how to...when to chastise them, when to embrace, and when to shut up and then when to speak, and then.... And you need all that. You need a good...good lesson in psychology, Christian psychology, God's psychology to deal with people on this basis. Because sometimes after you do that...after you rebuke they still don't do right. But the Bible said, "Some seed falls on stony ground," you know [Mark 4:5]. See, so if you got, I mean...and...and...and you gotta keep coming back, you gotta love people, and know that Christ is the answer, that He'll give you the victory, you know, that you've got to from PHOTO FILE: Prisons--Missions and charities keep on. And sometimes you'll think a man has not paid any attention to it, and two weeks later he'll come back and say, "Listen. You know what? I heard what you say two weeks ago. You thought I wasn't paying attention. It rang a bell." So you start. "I got in the penitentiary and I thought about that. I said, 'Uh. They were right.'" And, I mean, and...and...and that's what the...the system needs. It needs consecrated workers who...who...and you have to live what you preach, 'cause they'll catch you when you lickety-split [unclear] slip. Yeah, I mean, you gotta...if you say, "This is wrong," that it's wrong for you as well as them. If you say, "I'll be back tomorrow," don't come back six months later. That's a lie. They'll say, "That lying preacher, that lying missionary, say you're coming back." I mean, you've got to be truthful with them, but you've got to really live right, because if they think...if you...of you're half doing it they'll soon...they'll soon tell you, "They're [pauses]...they're talking, but their not listening. They're...they're just dead as me. They got as much game in them as I got in me." And they'll tell you. They're...see, the inmates are very factual. They'll tell off on you; they'll tell off on you. If they think you're biased, they'll tell...they'll tell you, see. I mean, and...and...then...they...they know. I mean, if you're for real, they'll help you do what you're going to do. All...all the tricks of the trade they teach me. I say, "What's the new word?" They tell me what the new word is. "What's happening now?" "Well, this is the way it is." I said, "May backfire." "Yeah, I know it'll backfire on me, but I got to let you know so you...." I said, "Don't leave me out here in the dark. What's the new game they got coming up? What's the new word they're saying now?" So they help me to get on their case. And then the ones who are teach me, [whispers] they say, "You did pretty good today, Mother, you did pretty good," [Shuster laughs] you see. He said, "I thought you were getting soft," you know. And you...you can't...I mean, I try not to show my weaknesses. I show love, but I try not to show my weaknesses, you know. I try not to...I try to be unbiased when I respond to them, so they won't think that I'm just doing it for them because they're individuals, rather than because they need the help of the Lord, I mean that individual concern.

For more information about York or Collection 397 click here. To read the entire transcripts from which these excerpts were taken, click here.

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