Prayer For Those in Prison Ministries
Parish Ministry Resources – A Parish Prison Ministry
Volume IV – 2012
By Father Demetrius Nicoloudakis
Our parish prison ministry began some twelve years ago. I got a call from the Chaplain of a nearby prison facility, letting me know that there were some Orthodox inmates there. I went to the prison to meet with the Chaplain and to see how we could be of help.
I went in my cassock to help be identified as an Orthodox priest. There are other larger Orthodox parishes close-by, but the schedules of their priests did not allow them the time to become involved. I began by visiting five Orthodox inmates weekly.
We met on a one-to-one basis to talk and pray together.
When I spoke with my parish about a possible parish prison ministry, reactions ran the gamut
from those who couldn’t believe that there were Orthodox people in jail, those who were apprehensive about the ones being released ever coming to our church, to those who responded favorably to my invitation to help me by coming to visit the incarcerated people with me.
Bible Study Leads to Catechumens
The Chaplain asked me if I would do a Bible Study with the men who were interested. We decided to call it “Ancient Church Bible Study,” so that the men would not think it was just for Orthodox Christians.
In it we discussed how Christians in the early church looked at Scripture and related to it. The topic piqued their curiosity. Attendance at the Bible Study sessions began to grow. There is a limit of twenty-five men to a session.
I soon learned that there was a waiting list of over two hundred men.
I informed the men in the Bible sessions that if they had an interest in learning more about the Orthodox faith, they should let me know. Several responded positively and a separate catechism class began. After a short time, many of them were desiring to definitely pursue becoming membered into the Church, so they were inducted as catechumens in a prayer service at the Bible Study.In covering the various subjects with the catechumens, I used materials put out by the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry Commission (a Commission now under the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops, formerly the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America) and some of my own materials.
Sharing in the one-on-one’s, the men became more open, moving toward a level of confession. Pastorally, I was trying to see what was fractured or broken in them, what needed to be healed. This was often done in conjunction with the prison counselors.
Over the years some two dozen men have been chrismated and baptized, many of whom are still in touch with me.
The staff at the jail began to notice a positive difference in the behavior of the men who attended the Bible Study. Staff began coming to the Bible Study sessions and some even converted to the Orthodox faith, including the Chaplain who first contacted me. He with his family converted and joined our parish.
One of the staff in charge of the overall training of other prison personnel occasionally visited our Bible Study sessions. He was leery, though, of going to church, of being stared at, of not feeling accepted because of having a racially mixed marriage and family.
When he and his family finally did come to our church, they were moved, not only by the Liturgy and teachings, but also by the genuine love and acceptance of the parish. He eventually converted to the Orthodox Faith.
After becoming warden at another prison, he has moved on and is now working in Harrisburg as the head of all Corrections in the State of Pennsylvania.
Other Interactions with the Inmates
Our parish began a tradition that on Pascha (Sunday) evening, a group of parishioners and I go to the prison to (re)celebrate Agape Vespers with the Orthodox and catechumen inmates. We bring Paschal food and after the Vesper Service we all have a festive meal together.
My wife, Presbytera Despina, also got involved in this ministry by meeting with the female inmates, talking with them one-on-one, listening to them, and praying with them. Five years ago, when she gave birth to our fifth child, she was no longer able to keep up the visitations.
Instead, so as not to let the women feel abandoned, she began a “Pound of Love” Project. Just before Pascha, she would bake enough pound cakes for each of the women inmates. With other women helping, she was able to bake enough for the almost 300 women who were overjoyed to receive them.The pound cakes have become so popular that churches of other denominations have joined in making them. This past year almost 800 pound cakes were baked and distributed to the women inmates, as well as to homeless shelters and food banks in the area.
My wife had served as a motherly presence to the women, the majority of whom were between the ages of 18 and 23. She still corresponds with many of them.
There is a program with the local YMCA where former inmates who come out and have no place to go, take up residence, many of whom are involved in drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs there. The program is called “Half Way Church” to meet those “half way” who are too embarrassed or fearful of non-acceptance to go to any church. On Thursday evenings, a number of parishioners from St.
Matthew and I would go over, have a meal with the men, and do a twenty minutes prayer service (Orthodox evening prayers, hymns). Homeless people would also participate. Other churches became involved in this program as well.
As a number of our teens who were a part of our group, have recently gone off to college, creating a shortage of manpower, we now help the other churches involved, with the meals.
Preparing Our Parish
When many of those who had become interested in Orthodoxy completed their prison terms, came out, and lived in the area, they wanted to come to our church.
We tried to explain to the parishioners that those of us volunteering at the jail, visiting, sharing, teaching, having fellowship with the inmates, represented the Church, specifically expressed in the local Eucharistic community of St. Matthew. This was a big challenge for our parish.
Many of our parishioners were very unsure. If former inmates were welcomed to come in, what was that going to mean? Preparing our community became very important.What could we do to prepare for God’s grace to work? We tried to prepare on every level.
Sermons focused strongly on themes such as “What in fact is the Gospel?” “What is the Church except to know and be transformed by Christ’s real presence?” Worship and participation in the Eucharist are not just to give us a good feeling, but to change our lives.
The only way we can be open to the Lord transforming the life of someone who had been incarcerated, moving him or her to repentance, is if we believe and see it, personally and collectively in our own lives.
We discussed this outreach in parish Bible Studies, at Parish Council meetings. Eventually the leadership of the parish, the Council, the Philoptochos (the women’s philanthropic group) got on board. That the Prison Chaplain had been elected to the Council didn’t hurt either.
Addressing the Whole Picture
All of this meant addressing the whole picture, especially in terms of expectations of both those we had ministered to in prison and of the parish itself. Everyone coming jail will have many serious challenges; some sadly will return to prison. When I first arrived at St.
Matthew’s, we were still worshipping in downtown Reading, a city sadly known for its poverty, drug problems and homicides. Once a homeless man who occasionally came to church, right in the middle of my sermon, suddenly got up, grabbed the alms box and ran out the side door.
By the time a couple of parishioners caught up with him, he had already purchased drugs with the money he took.
Many in the parish did respond positively. Our Metropolitan Maximos’ support was helpful. He even visited the prison once with me. When he would visit our parish, he would commend it for its ministry to those who were incarcerated. He also commended the mixed and varied backgrounds of our parishioners.
Lives of former inmates were being changed. They were moving on in healthy ways. Our task was to help them take responsibility for their faith and life, rather than to try to do it for them.
Yet, not only was recidivism (a return to jail) a challenge, there were parishioners that disagreed with this vision, who left and went to other parishes.
How We Help a Person Released from Prison
Those coming prison to our parish for help in re-entering the community can be eligible to participate in what is called the “Lazarus Project”. (Christ resurrects Lazarus, but directs those around him to “unbind and let him go”.
John 11) The County Department of Corrections’ Counseling Staff helps determine if he or she is mentally and emotionally stable enough to participate in the program. With the County’s assistance, we help the person find a place to live and a job. A mentoring program consisting of three persons of the same gender is set up.
The mentors meet with the person for one year, and are there to help/advise him or her as situations arise to help them get grounded. A number of success stories connected with the Lazarus Project have enhanced its credibility. Depending on the issues a person struggles with, especially if he or she is an Orthodox Christian, the person also regularly meets with me for pastoral counseling.I have worked in consultation with the person’s parole officer, “12 Step” sponsors and have even had persons give written permission to their counselor to talk with me and keep me objectively apprised of their progress.
While eight to twelve parishioners form the core of our prison ministry outreach, the whole community becomes involved when a newly released person comes to the church services.
As with any visitor, parishioners are encouraged to come up and greet them, talk with them at the coffee hour, introduce them to others, not let them sit alone. Some may look a little different, i.e. have a few tattoos.
We are always to keep in mind that they, too, are loved by Our Lord. We make His love known through our reaching out to them in love.
The question of a sex offender coming to church is an extremely sensitive one that has been asked, as it has happened in a few parishes in the United States. The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries Commission has developed some very real contractual guidelines for dealing with these situations.
From the standpoint of the Gospel, by which we are all judged, we cannot stop him from coming to church, as long as it is approved by his parole officer, counselor and support group to begin with. He would first need to sign a contract (available from OCPM) laying out the boundaries of who he can relate to in the church.
The person would be appointed two sponsors who would also sign the contract and would be there to support him while on the church grounds. This would not only protect the children, but also the person himself from false accusations. He would agree to meet weekly with me for pastoral sharing and confession.
We are fortunate in that we have parishioners who work in the prison system, so we are well prepared for this situation. I get calls from bishops and priests of all jurisdictions, asking what to do, particularly in these cases.
A Return to Jail Depends Greatly on What Happens When He/She Comes Out
Whether a person returns to jail again or not depends greatly on what happens when he comes out. The chances of re-incarceration are greatly reduced if there is a faith community waiting for him or her, wanting to help in the readjustment to life on the outside, guiding not only practically, but especially spiritually.
One of our parishioners, baptized a few years ago, was addicted to alcohol and heroin since his teens. He had been frequently in and jail since that time.
Now, at forty two years of age, he has been jail four years, the longest time out. He still has struggles but he considers St.Matthew Parish his family, knowing that while we will not enable dysfunctional behaviors, we definitely support efforts when the person takes responsibility for his faith and life soberly.
I must admit that I am proud of my parishioners as they work to make a non-judgmental and accepting environment. At the same time they are being discerning and realistic about the challenges and sin people face that helps them flesh out a life of “normalcy” that is fully manifest in the Lord Jesus, within His Body “on earth as it is in heaven.”
To my knowledge, there is only one other Orthodox parish St. Matthew in the entire United States that does parish prison ministry. In other parishes, the priest may go into the prison to visit a particular inmate, or to do a Bible Study, but it is not one where the whole parish is involved.
We try to see ourselves as the embassy of the Kingdom of God on earth. Christ came and inaugurated a brand new reality. We need to learn to partner, work, and cooperate with Jesus as His apprentices to prepare for His re-birthing of all creation that will become complete when He comes again.
The website for OCPM is //theorthodoxprisonministry.org.
Fr. Nicoloudakis is a member of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry Commission and is often invited to give talks at its yearly Convocation. Besides his pastoral work and being in demand as a speaker for conferences and retreats, he teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Alvernia University in Reading, PA and at St. Sophia’s Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary, Bound Brook, NY.
Biblical mentors build relationships in prison, care for those leaving prison – Mission Network News
South Africa/Tanzania (MNN) — Crossroads Prison Ministries has biblical prison mentorship programs utilized in over 20 countries. Most recently, Crossroads’ International Director Cynthia Williams traveled to South Africa and Tanzania back-to-back to provide training and connect with the prison outreach teams in those countries.
(Image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)
“In both South Africa and Tanzania, the Crossroads program or Bible study and mentorship is being implemented by teams,” Williams explains.
“There’s a coordinator and they have teams of volunteer mentors who work in their specific areas or regions in their country to ministry specifically to the prisons in those areas.
These teams of volunteer mentors are connected with their local churches who support them as they go into the prisons to share Christ.”
Even though Crossroads coordinates prison ministry across so many nations and cultures, it all comes back to their mission, which Williams shares is “to connect prisoners with mentors or believers from the Church to form Christ-centered relationships around the study of God’s Word — and through that we just see lives and prisons and churches transformed, changed through the Gospel.”
Prison ministry in Tanzania
During Williams’ time with the team in Tanzania, they held a two-day training event for Crossroads’ area coordinators from all over the country, which she says was an incredible feat. “It’s actually quite a big country and some traveled over 20 hours by bus — quite a rigorous trip — just to attend this event.
A group of prison ministry mentors with Crossroads in Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)
“During that time, as I spoke and interacted with them, I was impacted over and over again that each one came with such a strong heart for prison ministry and commitment to carry it out despite very difficult conditions [and] personal hardships.
Williams shares the stories of two particular area coordinators who impacted her. First, she says, “One particular coordinator, she’s an older woman who is a widow.She doesn’t really have a source of income per se, but her commitment to prisoners is so strong and she has actually welcomed into her home a family of a prisoner, so the wife and the children of someone who is in prison because they have nowhere to go.
So [this coordinator] has brought them into her home and is caring for them her own meager support system,” shares Williams.
“Another one of our coordinators is a military man whose heart was deeply moved when he saw how prisoners were treated and he decided he wanted to do something about it; but again, his own resources are so meager.
But he now serves in five prisons in his area which house thousands of prisoners, so it’s just a huge task. After this training event, he thanked us many times over, saying, ‘Now I know how to do this ministry.
Now I have the tools to do this ministry.’”
Prison ministry in South Africa
As Williams spent time in South Africa, she describes a unique focus of prison ministry there that the Church at-large should really embrace.
Crossroads’ International Director Cynthia Williams speaking at a prison ministry mentors’ conference in South Africa. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)
“In South Africa in particular, our teams are also focusing on not just the need for ministry inside the prisons, but that the Church needs to step up to also provide aftercare.
It’s important to bring the Gospel and discipleship to the prisoner while they’re incarcerated, but it does not stop there.
It must continue after they’re released during that very vulnerable time when their greatest need is for somewhere to live, somewhere to work, to make a living, and the need for a loving community that will support them in their re-entry. And who better to provide that than the Church?”
Williams saw the need for prisoner aftercare emphasized as well when she visited some of the Crossroads’ Bible study students at facilities in South Africa.
“We met with our students for a time to share the Word, to hand out graduation certificates for those who had completed various Crossroads Bible study courses, but most importantly to connect with them, to talk with them, to hear their hearts, to listen, to pray with them, sometimes give them a hug, [and] to encourage their hearts.
“Over and over again, I heard them say, ‘I’m worried about what will happen when I’m released. I don’t have anywhere to go, I don’t have any family, my family has turned their back on me. What am I going to do?’
Crossroads and the team in South Africa are working on strategies to help local churches provide and improve aftercare for prisoners re-joining society as citizens — such as housing, job opportunities, and a loving Christian community.
Prisoner aftercare: a responsibility of the Church
In Tanzania, South Africa, and around the world, Williams shares, “We’re seeing a growing understanding that it’s the responsibility of the local churches in their country to care for and minister to the prisoners and returning citizens in their country.
And this is actually resulting in a very strong commitment in these local churches to actually own the ministry, to take responsibility for it, to see it as a God-given mandate that they must carry out themselves.
So Crossroads comes alongside to support and provide tools, but they are the ones who own these ministries.”She adds, “This is not just a need in other countries around the world. You know, we can talk about it in Tanzania and South Africa, but this is a significant and pressing need right here in the U.S. as well. We have thousands and millions of prisoners here in the U.S. and 95 percent of them will be released one day. Where do they go?
“The churches in every community here in the U.S.
and around the world need to be the place where returning citizens can land, where they’re welcomed with open arms, where they have a place where they can continue to grow in their faith, to get on their feet, to be firmly established on the path to a transformed life, a new life in Christ. I think we can learn a few things from our brothers and sisters in Tanzania and South Africa about how to minister to and care for prisoners, and that was certainly my takeaway from these two visits.”
Needs for mentors, prayer, and support
There are three different ways you can get involved today with prison ministry through Crossroads. Even just one commitment in some way could make the eternal difference in the life of a man or woman currently serving time in prison.
Prison ministry mentor training in Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)
First, you can become a volunteer mentor with Crossroads Prison Ministries. All it takes is a bit of training, a commitment to their Christ-centered vision, and a willingness to write letters! Click here to learn more!
“We always need volunteer mentors here in the U.S. of course. [We are] always looking for those who are willing to give up their time to be a part of a prisoner’s life through our Bible study mentorship program. Here in the U.S.
, it’s a correspondence-based program. Around the world, it’s mostly hand-delivered, which is a wonderful, additional aspect of it. So the volunteer mentor piece is critical.
We cannot do this ministry without our wonderful mentors — we have about 5,000 of them around the world.”
Williams also asks for your prayers. “Especially as we go into the world, there are many places where the enemy is very strong, and we need that prayer support to be able to see the doors open to go into the places that are dark and without Christ with the program.”
And finally, Crossroads provides prison ministry teams with all the necessary Bible study materials and sometimes even medicine, personal hygiene items, and food to give out as needed. But they need the financial support of fellow believers to make this possible.
“We, of course, can’t do this without the financial support of those that really believe with us that these prisoners even around the world need us to stand with them. These teams that are going in, they need us to stand with them in practical ways to provide assistance.”
Click here if you’d to donate to Crossroads Prison Ministries!
Bible Verses For Those In Prison
Today, thousands of prisoners are turning to Christ by different ministries and Bible studies, and many prisoners are being set free while behind bars, so here are some great Bible verses for those who are in prison to study that might be helpful to them.
Our church has a prison ministry where we write letters, bring meals to some, do visitation, and provide biblical articles and Bible studies for each individual prisoner that is custom written just for them, but there is no real power in what we do because the real power is in the Word of God, so we use the Word of God and pray for the Spirit of God to create more children of God, and all for the glory of God. Mostly, prisoners are sight and mind, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting, and their families aren’t hurting. We don’t only minister to the prisoners, but to their families as well, so by all means, we must “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb 13:3). Clearly, the Lord doesn’t forget them (Matt 25:36), because we know that “the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners” (Psalm 69:33). The way Jesus sees it is when “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:36). Why? It’s because, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40). Our mission is closely associated with Jesus’ mission while He was here on earth, and that was “To open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7).
When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are not depending on our own strength or convincing arguments but rather, “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16), so even though “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18), so it is the Lord “Who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free” (Psalm 146:7), not us, and many are being freed indeed…and in many cases, they are freer than those who are outside of prison walls. Some believers around the world suffer from being imprisoned for their faith and not actually breaking the law, but for those who serve with us, we know that they “had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding on” (Heb 10:34). No matter how dark or hopeless they might feel, we can say for sure that “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Just as Joseph was unfairly thrown into prison, many are being imprisoned around the world for no more reason that trusting in Christ, but Joseph, they realize that even though it was “meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen 50:20).
Not many people have been called into a prison ministry, comparatively speaking, and our church’s prison ministry was not what we had planned…it just happened as God opened door after door to the prisons so we can walk in and preach the gospel.
That allows us to fulfill what Isaiah the Prophet wrote about what Christ’s mission would be, where “the Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).Jesus quoted Isaiah when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 1:18).
When we receive letters from these prisoners, it’s as if we “Let the groans of the prisoners come before [us, and we pray] according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die” (Psalm 79:11).
Even though we minister to prisoners, we also teach Romans 13, which among other things, says to “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom 13:1-2). It’s not as if these guards and law enforcement authorities were placed there by accident, but rather they are “God’s servant for your good.
But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (Rom 13:4-5).
Most of us can only imagine what it’s to live behind prison walls, so if you know someone who is, why not send these Bible verses for those in prison to study…and give them hope, as only God’s Word can do.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
Prison Ministry – Why Prison Ministry?
Then the Lord said. “If My people want to know where they are needed, tell them they are needed in the streets, the hospitals, the missions, and the prisons. When they come there they will find Me and the next move of' My Spirit.”
. . . I was in prison, and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:36)
The prison system is the only “business” that succeeds by its failure. Prison populations grow larger and larger. Often, people come prison worse than when they went in. Many commit more crimes, return to prison, and get stuck in the cycle of recidivism, the “revolving door” of crime, prison, and release.
The answer to this is not more prisons. It is not locking people up and “throwing away the key.” It is not even the death penalty, as studies have shown that even this does not effectively deter crime.
The answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the demonstration of power!
Prisoners need regeneration not rehabilitation–and Jesus has commissioned His followers to reach beyond the barbed wire fences and steel bars to touch the lives of men and women bound by the shackles of sin.
The greatest scriptural mandate for prison ministry is given in Matthew 25:31-40.
Jesus said:. . .“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, `Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: `for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; `I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, `Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, `Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40)
Jesus Christ Himself is our example for prison ministry. One of the main targets of Christ’s ministry was prisoners:
. . . To open blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7)
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound”. . . (Isaiah 61:1)
Even while dying on Calvary's cross, Jesus took time to reach out in love and concern to a prisoner. As a result, that convicted criminal experienced God's love, grace, and forgiveness. During the time between His death and resurrection, we are told that Jesus “ . . . went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19).
Unfortunately, despite the clear Biblical injunction and Christ’s example to minister to prisoners, many believers prefer to pass by on the other side of the street, as did the religious leaders in the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:29-37).
WHY PRISON MINISTRY?
Why must believers be concerned about prison ministry? Because. . .
1. Prison ministry has a direct Scriptural mandate (Matthew 25:31-40). Throughout the Bible are examples, descriptions, and commandments about prisons, prisoners, bondage, captivity, and slavery. The Bible mentions prison, prisoners, or imprisonment more than 130 times.
2. We should follow the example Christ set by ministering to prisoners.
3. Prisons meet the criteria of any mission field: Lost people and a need for laborers.
4. God is not willing that any should perish–not even serial killers, rapists, and molesters (2 Peter 3:9). God loves even the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
5. Chaplains cannot minister to more than a small percentage of inmates in their care. They cannot do all of the necessary work themselves, as there is just not enough time to do so.
6. Many jails and prisons have no professional chaplains and many have no religious services at all.
7. For every person incarcerated, there are three to five other people affected: Mates, children, parents, etc. Inmates and their families represent a large segment of society in any culture.
GOALS OF PRISON MINISTRY
The spiritual goals of jail and prison ministry may include one, some, or all of the following:
1. To share the unconditional love of God. 2. To present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that inmates will embrace it and receive Christ as Savior. 3.
To disciple new believers in the Word and teach them how to study the Bible. 4. To demonstrate the power of prayer and teach them to pray. 5. To lead inmates to experience the life-changing power of God that will free them from guilt, shame, negative emotions, and addictions.
To minister to inmates’ families.
The social goals of jail and prison ministry are: 1. To help the inmate function more positively within the prison environment. 2.
To provide a link between the community and persons confined in correctional institutions 3.To prepare residents for re-entry into society (physically, mentally, morally and spiritually). 4.
To assist inmates families in practical ways.
5.To provide post-prison assistance in practical ways.
WHAT THE GOSPEL HAS TO OFFER
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has many things to offer inmates.
1. Forgiveness from sin.2. A chance to say “I'm sorry.”3. Release from guilt and shame. 4. Acceptance–when all many of them have ever known is rejection.5. New values and perspectives. 6. Strategies for coping with difficult situations and negative emotions.7.
Basics for true honest relationships.8. Life abundant through Jesus Christ.9. A new purpose for living.10. Eternal life.
Of the millions of active believers world-wide, only a small number are involved in ministry to prisoners, despite the fact that jails and prisons are found in almost every community.
Yet the scriptural mandate by both teaching and example is clear.
Every believer should be involved in prison ministry. This does not necessarily mean you are called to actually go into a prison. As in missions–not everyone is called to go to a foreign field to share the Gospel. But–as in missions–every believer should be involved in prison ministry in some capacity.
There are many ways to be involved: 1.Provide prayer support for prison ministries. 2. Visit an inmate. 3. Write to a prisoner. 4. Assist families of inmates. 5.
Help inmates transition back to society after their release. 6. Conduct worship services, Bible studies, or group meetings inside prison. 7. Provide Bibles and Christian literature for inmates. 8.
Provide financial support to a prison ministry.
9. Serve as a prison chaplain.
Begin now to pray for God to reveal the specific way that you are to be involved!
Books on Prison Ministry & Evangelism & Caring for the Lost
An Earnest Ministry the Need of the Times by John Angell James here
A Vision of the Lost by William Booth here
A Want to Be A Soul Winner For Jesus by Ronny Milliner here
Beginning at Jerusalem by Charles H. Spurgeon here
Christian Witnesses for God by Charles G. Finney here
Cheer Up My Comrades by Charles H. Spurgeon here
Christians The Light of the World by Charles G. Finney here
Converting Sinners A Christian Duty by Charles G. Finney here
Corporate Prayer for Revival by Jonathan Edwards here
Counseling Recipes by Timothy Tow here
Earnestness Its Marring and Maintenance by Charles H. Spurgeon here
Evangelism 101 Laying The Foundation by Matt Waymeyer here
Evangelism Made Personal by Mark A. Copeland here
God's Love to Sinners as Seen in the Gospel by Charles G. Finney here
God's Word On Spiritual Warfare by Mark E. Hardgrove here
How Do You Do? by J. C. Ryle here
How Do You Know If You Are A Real Christian by Jonathan Edwards here
How May Ministers Best Win Souls by Robert Traill here
(1. Take Heed unto Thyself, Would You be a Saved and Successful Minister? 2. The Saving of Souls and Advice about the Means, 3. You that are Ministers Suffer a Word of Exhortation)
How to Pray for the Lost here
How To Study The Bible by R. A. Torrey here
(Introductory to Methods of Bible Study, Study of Individual Books, Topical Study, Biographical Study, Study of Types, Study of the Books of the Bible.
How to Work for Christ Volume 1 Personal Work by R. A. Torrey here
How to Work for Christ Volume 2 Methods of Christian Walk
by R. A.
(House to House Visitation, Cottage Meetings, The Church Prayer Meeting, Use of Tracts, Open-Air Meetings, Tent Work, Organizing & Conducting a Gospel Mission, Meetings in Jails, Hospitals, Poor Houses, Revival Meetings, The After Meeting, Children's Meetings, Advertising the Meetings, Conduct of Funerals, etc.)
How to Work for Christ Volume 3 Preaching & Teaching the Word of God
by R. A. Torrey here
(How to Prepare a Sermon, Preparation & Delivery of Bible Readings, Illustrations & Their Use, Teaching the Bible, Textual Sermons in Outline, Topical Sermons in Outline, Expository Sermons & Bible Readings in Outline)
I Want To Be A Soul Winner by Ronny Milliner here
Immeasurable Love by Charles H. Spurgeon here
Keep Praying Until God Answers When He Seems Not to Hear, Trust Him Still
by R. A. Torrey here
My Homiletic Swimming Pool or the Art of Preaching by Timothy Tow here
On Obedience to Pastors by John Wesley here
On Visiting The Sick – Matthew 25:36 by John Wesley here
One Thing Necessary by Thomas Watson here
One Thing Only by Oswald J. Smith here
Open-Air Meetings by R. A. Torrey here
Personal Declension & Revival of Religion in the Soul by Octavius Winslow here
(Incipient Declension, Declension in Love, Declension in Faith, Declension in Prayer, Doctrinal Error, On Grieving the Spirit, The Fruitless & the Fruitful Professor, The Lord, the Restorer of His People, and The Lord, the Keeper of His People)
Prison Meditations by John Bunyan here
Revivals by Horatius Bonar here
Soul Travail by Oswald J. Smith here
The Absence of the Sense of Sin in Present-Day Religion by Rev. J. S. Sinclair here
The Art of Man Fishing by Thomas Boston here
The Bible Pattern for the Evangelization of this World by Clifton Erickson here
The Church Bound to Convert the World by Charles G. Finney here
The Danger of Luke warmness in Religion by Samuel Davies here
The Good Confession by Watchman Nee here
(Public Confession, Separated From the World, The Elimination of Distinctions, Witnessing, How to Lead People to Christ, Household Salvation, etc.)
The Importance of Personal Soul Winning by R. A. Torrey here
The Missionary Problem is a Personal Problem by Andrew Murray here
The Place Of Prayer In Evangelism by R. A. Torrey here
The Power of Prayer by R. A. Torrey here
(The Secret of Christians Powerlessness, The Early Church's Victory, Steadfast Prayer, Present-day Departure From Prayer, Prayer will Bring the Power of God into Our Work, Examples of God's Power Evident in Prayer)
The Preacher's Power and the Conditions of Obtaining It
by Charles H. Spurgeon here
The Revival We Need by Oswald J. Smith here
(The Outpouring of the Spirit, The Responsibility for Revival, Soul-Travail, The Enduement of Power, Conviction, Obstacles, Faith, Heart Yearnings for Revival, Manifestations of God's Power, Spiritual Experiences of Priceless Value)
The Soul Winner – Charles H. Spurgeon Conversion by Charles H. Spurgeon here
The Strait Way to Heaven by William Dyer here
The Success of the Ministry of the Gospel, Owing to a Divine Influence
by Samuel Davies here
The Sunday School Teacher's Guide by John Angell James here
The True Gospel of Christianity versus the False Gospel of Carnal Christianity
by L. R. Shelton here
The World by J. C. Ryle here
The True Christian by John Angell James here
Two Essential Things by Charles H. Spurgeon here
What is the Supreme Task of the Church by Oswald J. Smith here
Why You Should Go To The Mission Field by Keith Green here
Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar here
Working for God by Andrew Murray here
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