By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Inmates are in jail. They're not dead.
Their spirits are alive and hurting, needing support and care just like anyone else, said Steve Cannon, executive director of J.A.I.L. Ministry - a Christian volunteer group that provides spiritual nurture to area juveniles and the inmates of Bell County Jail.
The weekly J.A.I.L. schedule overflows with activities. Evenings alternate with worship services, Bible studies and one-on-one encouragement sessions.
Man power is no problem. The group routinely welcomes new volunteers.
'But there's always a need for supplies and new Bibles,' Cannon said. 'And a need for funds to pay our administrative costs.'
The J.A.I.L. budget relies on contributions from the community, the bulk of which comes from J.A.I.L.'s annual fund-raising banquet.
This year, the banquet will take place Oct. 28 at the Bell County Expo Center.
'Banquet time is always a special time of year,' Cannon said. 'It's the biggest fundraiser of the year and a way to get all the volunteers together.'
Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith will serve as the master of ceremonies. Celebrating a theme of the 'Game Plan for Life,' the program will focus on Hebrews 12:1-2: 'Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.'
The keynote speaker will be millionaire Billy Cox of Dallas, a motivational speaker popular among big businesses. His clients include Nike, Tyson Foods and Hertz.
'The messages he brings, he's saying things we need to hear,' Cannon said.
Almost six months ago, fellow J.A.I.L. volunteer Larry Montgomery referred Cox to Cannon as a potential banquet speaker. Montgomery had heard one of Cox's programs and thought he'd be appropriate for the J.A.I.L. mission.
The author of several self-help books including 'The Dream Book,' 'You Gotta Get in the Game,' and 'The All-Star Sales Book,' Cox says Christ is the center of life.
'Everything in life revolves around our relationship with Christ,' Cox said. 'We are what we think, there's a scripture about that. It's how you act or react to life, your attitude. Everything must be with God's help.'
He owes his own success as a business man to his relationship with Christ.
Starting work at 17 as a part-time salesperson in a direct sales company, Cox worked his way to the top of every sales and management level available. By age 30, he had earned his first million dollars. Two years later, he became president of an international sales and marketing company taking on leadership of a nationwide team with more than 500 sales associates.
'It was an enormous challenge,' Cox said. 'Sales were in a slump, down almost 50 percent.'
But in less than three years, he and his team had turned the company around, increasing sales to record-breaking levels.
Now his goal is to share the concepts and techniques that led to his success.
'I travel worldwide, helping individuals achieve their dreams and teaching organizations to reach peak performance,' Cox said. 'As long as you put God first, it can work.'
Cox's central message is one that very much adheres to the mission of J.A.I.L. Ministries.
'We look forward to hearing his presentation,' Cannon said.
J.A.I.L.'s fundraising banquet is still in need of sponsors. Any individual or business to participate should call 254-933-8506 or email email@example.com. Sponshorships are available at the $250, $500 and $1,000 levels.
'We need all the help we can get,' Cannon said. 'We're fixing to have a bunch of new inmates to help.'
Canon was referring to the new 650-bed jail on Loop 121 in Belton. It will be operational late December or early January.