Grand Rapids retired businessman, Gene Goulooze, had been praying for a one-on-one ministry. In 1994 he met Merle at a church he was visiting in Orlando FL. Merle had been sharing the gospel with inmates at the Orange County Jail and Prison and invited Gene to join him one Monday. Once there Gene realized “this is it!” He was looking forward to getting back to Grand Rapids to investigate the possibilities for a one-on-one ministry at the local county jail. Gene was somewhat discouraged when he found that what he had been doing in Florida was not possible in Grand Rapids. He was still hopeful that God had something down the road, but what?
While shopping in a Bible Bookstore, Gene and his wife, Ruth, ran into Barb who had been in Gene’s bible class more than 30 years earlier. She was with her fiancé , Ross, who happened to be Superintendent of Education for the 5 prisons located in Ionia, MI. He put Gene in contact with the chaplain at one of the prisons, Chaplain Dan Thompson. When Gene explained what he wanted to do, Dan said they had never done that before, but he was willing to check with the Deputy Warden at the Riverside Correctional Facility in Ionia.
It so happened that the Deputy Warden, Adria Libolt, was married to a Pastor of a Christian Reformed Church in East Lansing. After hearing what Gene wanted to do she said they had never done anything like that, but was willing to try it with the understanding that if it didn’t work out he would have to quit.
So in April of 1995 the prison ministry began with Gene going in on Tuesdays to Riverside CF where young new inmates or repeat offenders ages 14-20 years old were being processed to determine which prison they would go into. God had opened the door!! God’s hand was at work.
The ministry was going well. Many young hearts responded to the Lord and were being transformed. About 175 inmates went through Riverside every month and Gene wasn’t able to see them all. He was given permission to come in more days per week, but even at 4 days per week many that wanted to visit were being missed. Gene started praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into the fields that were ripe unto the harvest. The Lord responded and sent many volunteers who assisted in reaching all of the 175 that wanted to have a visit with one of the 2 or 3 volunteers who were scheduled daily Tuesdays through Fridays. Each volunteer had an opportunity to ‘Share [their] Faith Without an Argument’ with inmates and they were given a bible and a postage paid card to get a free correspondence Bible course through Set Free Prison Ministry.
Over the course of the next few years the one-on-one ministry expanded into its own in-house Bible Correspondence Program. Lessons were offered during the one-on-one visits and were graded by volunteer Bible Study Partners. The ministry continued at Riverside until September of 2002. During that time over 14,000 inmates ages 14-20 were introduced to Jesus the Lord and many thousands of lives and hearts were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
In September 2002, the processing of young inmates was moved to the Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson, MI. The same prison that the older inmates were being processed. The ministry would have to shut down unless the Deputy Warden at Egeler would allow it to be continued there. As it turned out, in 1996 Deputy Warden Adria, who had given permission for the ministry at Riverside, had been transferred and was now the Deputy Warden at Egeler! God opened another door! Gene believed she had been placed there for “such a time as this” much like Esther of the bible. NCPM was given approval and the ministry opportunities increased with about 1600 inmates a month being processed through Egeler.
In 2003, what began with one man as a one-on-one ministry became incorporated under the name New Creations Ministries with over 100 volunteers throughout several Grand Rapids churches. In 2004 New Creations Ministries officially became a non-profit organization.