What is Anchor Ministry?

Anchor Ministry is a not-for-profit prison ministry based in Gig Harbor, WA. Anchor Ministry was founded in 2011 and exists to bring the hope and love of Jesus Christ to inmates and their families. We spend time visiting inmates currently in prison and counseling their families, helping them transition back into society when released. We stand with and beside them and their families while in court and provide discipleship to others to minister to inmates all over.

John Ewell, founder of Anchor Ministry, knows what it's like to be in jail. With a history of gang involvement, wrong choices, time in jail, and a second chance by God, John has the unique ability to speak into the lives of inmates.


John Ewell, Founder of Anchor Ministry

John Ewell, Founder of Anchor Ministry


John has a certificate in Chemical Dependency to aid in working with people struggling with addiction.




I have spent the majority of my life running around with the rougher crowd. Needless to say I have spent most of my life in and out of trouble because of that.

I spent the majority of my life living in Southern California spending my time with people who enjoyed breaking the rules with me. I was not afraid of authority or for that matter any one. Because I was not easily intimidated I was eventually approached by the Hell’s Angels to be apart of their motorcycle club.


Although I turned them down, these were the kind of people I spent my time with. As you can imaging eventually that landed me in and out of jail. The last time I was locked up I decided that I didn’t want this kind of life for myself anymore. Some Christian guys had been coming into my unit to do a Bible study, but I never wanted anything to do with them. I was amazed that, despite the constant rejection these guys received, they would not give up on me. One day I decided to see what this Jesus character was all about. So I went.

I was sitting in the very back row, arms crossed with an angry expression on my face. Although I didn’t really want to hear anything they had to say God started working on my heart. When it was over I was the first one heading for the door. Just as I suspected, one of the two guys who led the service cut me off at the door. He just wanted to tell me that he was glad I came and that if I needed anything to let him know. I was blown away that this guy didn’t want something from me.

I had learned growing up that people were not nice unless there were strings attached. When I finally decided to pick up the bible I had a bitter angry heart. I thought "Where do I start?" "What am I supposed to get out of this?" I think I heard someone say that the book of Mathew was the beginning of the New Testament and it had some Jesus stuff in it, I started there. I’m not overstating when I say that what I read that day literally floored me. I am still amazed at how much Jesus loves me, and was waiting to forgive me. I asked Jesus to forgive me, and meant it.


I felt his forgiveness as clear as anything I’ve ever felt. And no I was not just telling myself what I wanted to hear. As I continued to read those words written in red I started to understand what a true Christ follower has, and I wanted it. I started spending time everyday in the word of God. Just as then, I still enjoy reading about his love for me. I could hardly wait each week to see those guys for the Bible study, and ask them my questions. They had played such an instrumental part in my life that I couldn’t thank them enough. They were such Godly men that every time I would try and thank them, they just pointed me back to God.


I don’t remember exactly when, but I made a promise to God that if He could ever use me in that situation then I was in. When I was released this time, I knew something had changed in me. Walking out of those gates I could feel it as much as I’ve ever felt anything in my life. I started to allow Christ teaching to become a part of my everyday life. I began to restore my relationship with my wife, family and friends. I finally started to understand that the bible was not just a big book, full of rules, but that it was the instruction map on the right way to live our lives.

I believe that God knows the children he created, and he also knows the best way for us to successfully live our lives. Soon my wife and I started to desire a different way of life for ourselves, as well as our children. So we sold our home in California and moved up to Washington hoping to find a slower pace for our family. We also wanted to find more Christian friends. Little did we know that we had just moved to the second least-churched state in the country. But it didn’t matter to us, because we fell in love with this little house in a town called Maple Valley.


Everything seemed to be going great. I had a successful construction business, and my marriage along with the relationship with my kids had never been better. But what I believed was about to happen is that God was working on a different plan for me. One day I woke up like any other day, but from the moment I opened my eyes I had a tremendous pain in my right elbow. I decided to have it looked at. The doctor immediately scheduled an M.R.I. The results showed that I needed pretty extensive surgery. I put off having the surgery as long as I could, knowing that I would be down for some time unable to work. I didn’t like the thought of that. But one day it became more than I could bear, so I scheduled the surgery. The surgeon was amazed that I waited as long as I did.


After the surgery, my doctor sternly advised that I never do construction again due to the amount of damage I sustained from years of construction. His orders were that I needed to take it very easy for at least three months. That was difficult, since I’ve never been one to sit around. My heart was broken. I didn’t understand why God would allow such a thing to happen to me. What was I supposed to do now? How was I supposed to support my family? I became angry with God, and sunk deep into depression.

In my down time I struggled for things to keep me busy. I kept hearing a voice say to me “Don’t forget about the promise you made to me.” At first I disregarded it, convincing myself that I could never do prison ministry. But God kept after me, assuring me I could do it. I figured what would it hurt to look in to it, the worst they could say is no. I started calling around, to see what it would take. Every place I called it kept coming back to the same person’s name, Dick Rothlesburger. He was the man I needed to talk with. The name sounded very familiar, but I could not place it. I asked my wife if she recognized the name.


She looked at me with a puzzled look and said, “Are you serious? That’s our next door neighbor.” Of course, Dick next door. I had forgotten his last name, and had forgotten he was in prison ministry. I hadn’t lived there very long, and obviously didn’t know him well. I quickly ran next door to talk with him. He immediately invited me in, and we started talking about what I needed to do. Dick helped me to start the process, which turned out to be quite involved, but I stuck with it. Eventually I got my clearance, and was assigned the Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington. I’ve always been drawn to the community of people who admit their brokenness and need for Christ. Unfortunately, one of the main places you find this is people in prison.

The first time I went in I was terrified, not of the inmates, but of screwing up, sounding stupid, and forgetting what to say. Before I walked in I said a prayer and asked God to give me the words, because I knew I could not do this on my own. After that, I had a peace that if I just trusted in him it would be okay. From the moment I started to speak, I was amazed at how smoothly it was going. Where once a stuttering, stammering boy sat, an eloquent well-spoken man now stood. It was as if someone else was doing the talking.


After a few years I eventually felt led to start Anchor Ministry and dedicated myself to full-time ministry, pouring into inmates the way that others had poured into me. I truly believe that I’m finally doing what I was always meant to do. I cherish the relationships that I have made, and continue to be shaped by the experience. I still thank God everyday that not only has he forgiven me, but he can use 'this knucklehead" to help people find God and not religion.