Rev. Aaron Buttery, RJD,San Diego, CA
In 2013, Aaron walked away from a career in nuclear power to pursue god’s call in his life for prison ministry. Since then, he has been serving as a volunteer at RJ Donovan state prison, fulfilling a variety of roles for the protestant religious program. In 2017 Aaron graduated from Bethel seminary with a Master of Divinity and was ordained by Converge Worldwide, a baptist conference that has been around for over 165 years. Aaron has been faithfully serving as a yard pastor on facility a at RJ Donovan since October of 2016. As a yard pastor, Aaron helps inmates meet, know, and follow Jesus through bible studies, prayer groups, Sunday church services, Kairos events, one on one counseling, walking the yard, and cell visits. With your partnership, Aaron can continue to bring a message of hope and healing and be a beacon of light in a place of great pain, brokenness, and despair.
REV. ELENA HERNANDEZ, SPANISH PROGRAMS COORD & YARD PASTOR CCI, TEHACHAPI, CA
Being in prison as well as some family members kindled my interest in prison ministry. I began as a daily volunteer in 1978 at the Penitentiary in Tijuana. Witnessing the suffering of these men and women drew my heart to work harder in this ministry. The penitentiary in Tijuana was my Clinical Pastoral Education for almost 8 years. I also ministered to the patients at the General Hospital in Tijuana. God continued opening doors for me and when I moved to live in the U.S. I was able to volunteer at Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee, Descanso Detention Facility in Alpine, East Mesa Detention Facility, George Bailey Detention Facility and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. In 1990 God opened the door to minister at the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility. In 1995 I moved to New York to enhance my Theological studies. In New York I studied Clinical Pastoral Education at the HealthCare Chaplaincy and at the Blanton Peale Institute of Counseling. During those years in NY, I ministered at the Rikers Island Prison thru Prison Fellowship and volunteered at the Manhattan Detention Facility. I returned to San Diego in 2000 and started volunteering again at RJ Donovan. In 2012 God moved me to minister at the California Correctional Facility in Tehachapi and to the women at the Federal Prison in Delano. I stayed at the CCI prison until 2019 when COVID-19 hit, and the Correctional Facilities closed religious services. I moved back to the San Diego area and served as a missionary for 3 years ministering to the men and women in rehab and to the low-income families in the small communities of Camalu, Baja California. In 2023 I started volunteering again at R.J. Donovan as a Yard Pastor. I believe that my passion to minister to the incarcerated population is a God given gift since the experiences that I have had with some members of my family in prison made me aware of the suffering and need to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the incarcerated in all prisons and jails.
Pastor Michael Solorio, Yard Pastor WSP, KVSP, NKSP, Wasco/Delano, CA
I would like to give God all the praise and glory for rescuing me from six years of drug addiction and alcohol. It was in January 29, 1991 when I was invited to come to a small church in Fairfax, CA that I had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. I had never attended a church before, and when the Pastor said to me at the altar: “Before you get God in your life, you have to acknowledge the one who died on the cross for you, Jesus Christ.” Then I said: “Jesus, please forgive me for my sins”. Then I fell on the floor and cried like I had never cried before. When I got up I was not the same person. Jesus touched my heart and I was a new born-again Christian filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately after that experience I started working with people from the streets who had the same background that God delivered me from. In 2008 I started volunteering at a local radio station helping with a Spanish program called “Treasures Out of Darkness”. In 2012 I felt a call from God to get involved in prison ministry and started volunteering at the Shafter & Lerdo County Jails in Bakersfield as well as at the Wasco state prison, where I am the Volunteer Coordinator under the supervision of the Community Resources Manager. In 2015 God opened doors for me to start volunteering at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi and later at Kern Valley and North Kern state prisons. I have a deep compassion for the inmates because they need hope and we in Christ have the answer to their need: Jesus Christ!
Dr. Roger Ziegler, Yard Pastor RJD, San Diego, CA
After serving at RJ Donovan as a volunteer in the Protestant religious program for over 10 years, Roger has felt God’s call to full time ministry with Pastors to Prisoners as a Yard Pastor. Roger is uniquely qualified for prison ministry. He has served in the KAIROS ministry; he has a Brown Card identification (which allows him to escort other volunteers); taught Bible studies on several yards and participated in chapel programs at Centinela State Prison. He has also been a leader in ministries at his home church and has shared his vision of ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to men who have lost all hope. Roger has seen the fruit of his ministry in men who are now out of prison, and have found in their faith, the resources to experience not only a new life in Christ, but the power to experience the changes that allow for a new life of freedom and lawful productivity in the community. Roger gave up his chiropractic practice to follow what he believes in his heart to be God’s call. We eagerly seek your prayers and support as Roger enters the “devil’s playground” as a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Elliott LaQuinn Nichols, Yard Pastor RJD, San Diego, CA
Elliott Nichols has been serving at Donovan Prison since 2010. Much of the time he is accompanied by his beautiful wife Rosemary. He will tell anyone who will listen that Prison Ministry is definitely his calling. He even takes a part in the Spanish services by utilizing an interpreter. He loves providing the spiritual guidance, love, and support the men desire and need. He is a real soldier for the Lord.
Pastor Danny Gonzales, Yard Pastor RJD, San Diego, CA
Pastor Danny Gonzales is a Southern California native and was born and raised in Southeast San Diego. In 1994 he was convicted of a crime, served 20 years on a life sentence, and was released in March of 2013. November 12, 1995, Danny started the process of change and began serving the Lord. One year after being released Danny married his wife Pamela on March 3rd of 2014. Together they completed TUMI, and founded Pillar of Fire Church San Diego. He is the Senior Pastor and The Urban Ministry Institute-San Diego site coordinator. Danny began volunteering at RJ Donovan in 2018, teaching TUMI to the men on Charlie Yard. The Protestant Prison Chaplain at the time saw the love and compassion he had for the men and asked him to come on as Yard Pastor. Now through his dedication to kingdom business he has an associate pastor cover Echo Yard, and they share the double duty of Charlie and Echo at RJ Donovan. They are providing TUMI, 1-1 mentorship, life skills, board prep and re-entry support through ministry partners. Danny is also a licensed CADC-II counselor, (drug & alcohol) he is able to utilize his own real-life experience, education and Pastoral heart to serve the men inside and recently released men. Pastor Danny has not forgotten where he has come from and continues to serve those behind the walls and provide support for those being released.
Rev. Frank Castaneda, Yard Pastor – various State and Federal Prisons in California
Frank, a native of Ventura County, retired after working 29 years for the City of Simi Valley’s water department. He has been married to his lovely wife, Adela, for 40 years; together they have four children. Frank has gone through countless trials and tribulations throughout his life. He grew up in a community where drugs and violence were the norm, which resulted in decades of drug addiction and imprisonment. He was once identified as a menace to society; however, God restored him after a potentially fatal head injury. On January 10,1990, Frank found himself at a hospital with a broken skull and was not promised to live. He spent seven months at the hospital in rehabilitation, where he underwent extensive therapy to re-learn how to walk and talk. Despite the hardships, Frank’s conversion started when he came to realize that the Lord had a divine plan for his life. He repented for all his sins, where he got sober and delivered from heroin and alcohol. Frank’s desire to seek God, led him to get involved in church and find his identity in Christ. From the earliest stages of his faith, God was shaping in him a heart for service where he saw the miraculous hands of God move in his life. Frank heard the voice of God in his life, where he was being led to share the gospel. God’s transformation power continued to arise as Frank birthed his 2nd Chance prison ministry. For 30 years, Frank has been traveling the state of California, visiting state and federal prisons, sharing the good news to men who have lost all hope. He is a passionate minister who is driven to inspire others in wanting to advance in the Kingdom of God.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV