Words of encouragement is something everybody likes to hear, but in times of need and hopelessness while serving time in jail, it can mean a lot to an inmate to help get through the tough times ahead.

The chaplain of the Orange County Jail, Mike Eaves, likes to consider himself  “the encourager.”

“Despair is all around and they need to be encouraged,” Eaves said of the inmates.

Eaves has been the chaplain for the jail for about 30 years. He offers spiritual counseling to the inmates. His job is also to coordinate the 23 ministers who come from area churches to conduct church services for the inmates. The services are open to all faiths. Eaves has a waiting list of other churches and ministers wanting to share the Word of God with the inmates.

During the course of a month, about 250 inmates attend the church services which are held three times per week. Services are separate for men and women.

The minsters do not get into the inmates cases, but work solely on their “spiritual” needs. Once the inmates are released from jail, they  are welcome to attend any of the churches. If an inmate chooses to take it a step further and wants to be baptized while in jail, it is done at the jail. Baptisms are done once a month.

Eaves and the ministers do all they can for the inmates, but have to keep in mind it is in fact still a jail.

“The main thing is security comes first,” Eaves said.

But, Eaves job as the chaplain does not end with being at the jail. He is on call as well. There are times when he may accompany an officer to a residence for notification of next of kin following an incident where a death may have occurred. Eaves may be needed as support to the family.

Eaves was also called out to the scene of an accident. A truck driver was in need of someone to talk to following an incident where a man walked in front of his truck on the Interstate. The man was killed instantly which left the truck driver with issues and heartache to deal with in the aftermath. Eaves was able to provide some guidance and prayer in his time of need.

A call to service the Lord came later in Eaves’ life. He actually worked in the construction field before he changed to his current profession. But, he says after he became a Christian, “God opened doors” and working in the jail is something “the Lord laid” on his heart.

“When I met Jesus Christ, he directed me to service in the jail,” Eaves said.

That was in 1977 and he never looked back. Since then, he and his wife, Laverne, have raised four children.

He is endorsed by the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches. The organization is a Full Gospel, Spirit-filled ministry of helps based in Dallas, Texas. Since 1984, they have been endorsing Military and Civilian Chaplains for service to the nation and is state and federally recognized.

Eaves has been blessed with some momentous occasions outside the jail such as he was able to baptize his father, Louis, when he was 70 years old. His father has since passed away after sharing this occasion.

To keep the tradition going, he also baptized his wife and children. In addition, he conducted the marriage ceremony for his oldest son, Aaron.

Through it all, there is a favorite Bible verse of Eaves which is Philippians 1:6.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” it reads.

Chaplain Mike Eaves, for the Orange County Jail, meets the inmates “spiritual needs” and offers words of encouragement.