A lot has changed in the 39 years since Lloyd and Nita Colbaugh began volunteering at the United States Medical Center, a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
In addition to tighter security and closer scrutiny of volunteers, they've encountered more spiritual barriers in recent years.
"The inmates come with a whole lot of baggage of some kind or another," Lloyd Colbaugh says. "Some of the people who show up at meetings have been involved with the occult or have Satanist backgrounds."
The challenges of taking the gospel to the incarcerated never deterred the couple, however. For nearly four decades, they faithfully helped with Sunday morning chapel services, visited inmates and led many to Christ. Since 1970, they have donated more time to prison ministry than anyone else in the history of the Assemblies of God, according to Alvin Worthley, national director of AG Chaplaincy Ministries.
"Lloyd and Nita are by far the greatest volunteers I have ever met," Worthley says. "I lost count of how many inmates testified to me about how the Colbaughs were instrumental in their decision to follow Christ."
The octogenarians reluctantly withdrew from the ministry earlier this year due to health concerns.
"Every year, Lloyd and Nita each have given the equivalent of 10 percent of a regular federal employee's time spent at work," Worthley says. Between the two of them, that would amount to more than $400,000 if they had been employed.
"We've been honored to know many of these men and watch their growth as Christians," Colbaugh says. "Some have come out of prison and led exemplary lives."
In addition to his volunteer work, Lloyd Colbaugh formerly worked as a graphic designer at the AG Headquarters. The Colbaughs are the parents of Evangel University professor Dwight Colbaugh and grandparents of Christian recording artist Sara Groves.
--Christina Quick, Today's Pentecostal Evangel