William Logan believes his running into Joan Robbins was preordained before the foundations of the earth.
The two met at the Carolina Cafe while Logan was talking about a prison ministry in Spindale that had been graced by Joan's late husband, Phillip. Before his death, Joan's husband donated the brick to build the chapel on Ledbetter Road that is part of the Department of Corrections facility there. He also supported the ministry financially, as did many good causes in Rutherford County. He also piloted a private plane that was often in service to others.
"This has to have been preordained," Logan said as the two talked in a back corner of the restaurant.
"Phillip loved doing for other people; and of course, loved helping with the prison ministry," Joan said.
Logan says he does prison ministry because of changed lives. But what causes the change in their lives?
He grinned and said the answer to that question is obvious.
"Jesus. Jesus changes lives," he said. "Not rehabilitation, not restitution. Jesus changes lives."
Such a simple formula, and yet a mystery to many who struggle with the name, the surrender, the belief, the confession. To those who have not yet crossed that line, the mystery can be baffling.
Logan himself struggled. He got in trouble in the Army where he served as an EMT 1974-76. His supervisors knew he was in trouble and sent him to a Christian camp. All the while his brother, Doug was praying for him while in prison. Doug had found Jesus in prison.
According to a story Virginia Rucker wrote years ago, Doug's letters to William about his conversion to Christ "took a hold of me. When I came home to visit, he had a joy and peace, I didn't have."
Once home from the army, he began a 26-year career with PPG in Shelby, but was always helping out with the prison ministry.
He said, "You can't feed these men with a long-handled spoon. When they hurt, we have to feel that hurt and fill that hurt. They are searching for answers and a way to a better life."
Logan is not paid by the state, but by a local nonprofit called 096 Prison Chapel Ministry, which supports the prison ministry in Spindale, including Logan's colleague, Kriss Landry and the jail ministry in Rutherfordton, run by Jerry Hames.
He has been married to Brenda for 43 years. She runs two local daycare centers. They have three children and six grandchildren.
Logan had high praise for the staff at the prison. "I couldn't do anything without the help of a great staff. They are a tremendous help to me."
Prior to Covid19, Logan, with the help of about 40 volunteer ministers and lay leaders, conducted two services on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Currently the services are suspended, but Logan spends a lot of time talking to men on the yard.