Are You Interested in Prison Ministry?

barbedwire prison flickr_katerha

Are you interested in prison ministry?

92.8% of you immediately answered “No.”

I don’t blame you. It’s what I would have said even a year ago.

But if you’ve been following along with our journey, you know that I did my first prison ministry (Kairos) last fall, at the strong urging of a neighbor and friend. God touched my heart and humbled me through that experience.

Since the end of 2012 (besides some weeks I was out of town), I’ve been meeting with a group of inmates every Sunday evening, working through a manhood curriculum. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these men, trading jokes (“Hey, Joey, can I get a ride when we’re done?”), and sharing what is going on “out on the streets.”

We had another highlight. . . . On on February 3, I got to bring in food and drinks for a Super Bowl party with our group.  This came about as an application of our instruction (in the manhood curriculum) to “enjoy life together.” One of the administrative assistants (whom I’ve been communicating with a lot) met me up there on Sunday afternoon, bringing her own contribution on her own day off. After she left, we went to our regular meeting area to watch the game.

Three things you should know about this event:

  1. These guys can eat a lot.
  2. When the lights went off at the Super Bowl, my first thought was, “That’s much better than the lights going out here in the prison.”
  3. Don’t think I’m such a great guy. We don’t have cable at our house, so this gave me a way to watch the big game. Win-Win situation.

So, I’ll ask again. Are you interested in prison ministry? You may still be thinking “No,” but let me tell you why you should get involved at least once, and I’ll tell you how you can do it in Allendale.

Why You Should Do Prison Ministry

How many “convicting” (hahaha) reasons do you need? Six? OK, here you go.

  1. Men need relationships.
  2. These men need your skills and knowledge.
  3. These men need the love of Jesus.
  4. These men need you to show them the love of Jesus, with your time. Incarceration has been shown to increase the prevalence of mood-related disorders such as depression. Wouldn’t you feel depressed, too, if your life was full of of isolation and monotony?
  5. There is a need for work to get done, to make their “home” a better place.
  6. You need to have your misconceptions changed.

Still not convinced? Maybe Jesus and the writer of Hebrews can better motivate you.

What You Can Do in Allendale

Perhaps you can get involved in a prison near you. But maybe you want to support that great things going on at Allendale Correctional Institute (ACI). Here are things that they have done in the past, or have going on now:

Projects and Events:

  • Painting and cleaning
  • Gardening (this prison produced thousands of pounds of food last year)
  • Wood working (they have built quality products used around Allendale)
  • Sports exhibition (basketball or softball)

Educational Classes:

  • Computer certification and/or repair
  • Life skills (budget, etc)
  • Math and reading
  • Vocational training
  • HVAC
  • Photography / videography

Do any of these ideas interest you? Or, what other skills and knowledge could you share?

Immediate Needs

Three years ago, a program called Character-based Housing Unit (CHU) was launched at ACI. (The men I meet with are the coordinators of the CHU.) This program helps prepare me to re-enter society.

Currently, there are about 250 inmates in the CHU, and plans are being made to expand it to include another 250 men. But they have let me know of some things they could use to get this done:

  • Books (non-fiction and inspiration)
  • Textbooks
  • Bookshelves
  • Copy machine and paper

Could provide any of these things?

Whether you donate resources or your time (and I hope you do more of the latter), you need to Just Do Something. These men want to leave as a better person, and if you serve in this way, you will leave a better person as well.

Let me know how I can help you.

Related Links:

**image courtesy of katerha via flickr

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