Gregory Emelander, Adventist Prison Ministries Leader, Incarcerated with Young Woman Following Overdose
January 22, 2017: Gregory Emelander, an Adventist prison ministries leader whose story of redemption from drug dealing and prison has been widely covered by Adventist media, was jailed along with a teenage woman after overdosing in Coldwater, Michigan, on Wednesday, January 18.
Branch County, Michigan’s The Daily Reporter newspaper stated that Aryonna Strassman, the 19-year-old that was with Emelander, called 911 just before 1 a.m., when the prison ministries leader passed out from a drug overdose at a motel.
By the time police and emergency medical personnel arrived, Emelander was conscious and he refused treatment.
Police officers found two doses of Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, as well as a brown substance in Emelander’s wallet that tested positive for heroin. More of the drug was found in the hotel room trash can. Crack cocaine was also found.
Strassman said she was approached by Emelander, who asked her if she wanted to get high. He then allegedly took her to the motel room and supplied drugs and syringes. According to a January 20 follow up in The Daily Reporter, Emelander and Strassmen met through “his work as president of Conviction Ministries, Inc.”
Emelander was charged with possession with intent to deliver both cocaine and heroin, as well as with delivery of the two drugs.
A prior record means that the charges carry a doubled penalty of 40 years of prison time each. A four-time offender, with convictions for carrying concealed weapons and two home invasions, Emelander could face life imprisonment if convicted.
Emelander headed up Conviction Ministries, which on its website brands itself as a ministry “initially founded to minister to those who are incarcerated.”
It adds that “God has broadened our ministry to reach out to those who are in bondage to sin. Sometimes that bondage is to drugs, alcohol, or pornography and at other times it’s simply hopelessness, depression, and a perceived lack of purpose.”
Remnant Publications released a book titled Where Darkness Reigned authored by Emelander. The publisher describes the book as “the story of a man who, though filled with fear and despair, found freedom and happiness in the most unlikely place—prison. Greg’s life is proof that the past does not have to dictate the future.”