I’m Going Back to Prison. You Can Help.
Beginning last December, I had been meeting with about a dozen residents (inmates) at Allendale Correctional Institute. The men I met with were all coordinators for ACI’s Character-based Housing Unit (CHU) program. They are leaders who labor to help other men become better men and more productive citizens, so that they can all improve their lives in prison and be prepared for life outside of prison.
We met almost every Sunday night, minus a few weeks if the prison was on lockdown (do to illnesses or “disruptive movement”), or if I was out of town. Who would have thought that I would have missed them so much when I wasn’t able to come in?
We went through two versions of The Quest for Authentic Manhood — first a 24-week version from Fellowship Bible Church (Authentic Manhood), then a 9-week version from Grace Church (Men’s Roundtable). From the first time I met with them, I saw that this would be an opportunity for life change.
For the record, the guys liked the teaching from Grace Church better, although in some way I think they prefer the longer FBC version. After all, most of them are in no rush to get through the material, having all the time in world (from their perspective).
It was a fun and eye-opening 8 months for me, that combined serious discussions, heartfelt prayers, and even a casual Super Bowl party.
This Year’s Plans
Since my football season started, Sundays are off-limits for doing this prison ministry, since the coaches watch film on Sunday afternoons. Foreseeing this, I had been trying to figure out a new time to meet, and what curriculum they wanted to work through next.
After a few weeks of communication, I was finally able to get back in and meet with some of the CHU coordinators. I’m excited that we’ve come up with plans for this fall and early next year.
Starting later this month, we will go through “A Man and His Work” curriculum from Men’s Roundtable. This time, I won’t just be meeting with the CHU coordinators. It will be a varied group: a few coordinators, some men who serve in “mentor” roles under the coordinators, and some future teachers.
This will be a chance for me to learn (I’ve never gone through this material), for me to pour into some leaders, and to “train the trainer” (so that they can be better leaders for future courses that are offered in the CHU). The beauty of this material is that one doesn’t have to teach so much as facilitate.
Coming Up in 2014
We should finish “A Man and His Work” before the end of the year. In January, I’d like to work through the book The Mentor Leader (by Tony Dungy). I went through this book several years ago, and I think that the principles in it line up with what they are trying to accomplish with the CHU program.
Do you want to be a part of this? You can either buy copies of The Mentor Leader (and have them shipped to us), or send us money and we’ll order them.
If you are interested in helping out, please leave a comment or contact me.
And since the author is a former NFL coach, I think our group should have another Super Bowl party, right?
Edit: You can read about the great response of donations in Book Donations: Thank You!
Edit: You can read about the success of our study in Mentor Leadership in Prison.
- Prison Ministry in Allendale
- Prison Ministry: A World of Unforgiveness, Isolation, and Pain
- Are You Interested in Prison Ministry?
- 95% What If…
**image courtesy of katerha via flickr