The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the 2nd highest per-capita incarceration rate. There are over 2.2 million adults in U. S. Federal and State prisons and county jails. As of August 2014, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDJC) had 150,361 prisoners incarcerated with an average age of 38 and an average sentence of 17 years. For every person incarcerated, there are three to five other people affected: spouses, children, parents, etc.
In Hebrews 13:3 the Apostle Paul tells us to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” As followers of Christ we have a Biblical mandate to “seek and save the lost.” This does not necessarily mean that we are seeking to free inmates from their physical prison, but from their spiritual prison, whether it is sin, ignorance, rebellion or foolish choices. Jesus is the source of that freedom and it is up to us to bring them that “good news,” to comfort them and to lift them out of despair.
Prisoners are one of the most neglected populations when it comes to witnessing. They are often written off as hopeless. Prison Ministry at LPC is relatively new and we are currently seeking volunteers to meet the spiritual, physical and personal needs of prisoners with the ultimate goal of seeing them restored to Christ, their families and their communities. There are many ways to serve in this capacity:
- You can be a source of encouragement to the inmate, a link to the outside world and a model of mature Christian life by visiting and writing to inmates.
- You can help inmates to transition back into society after their release by teaching them life skills such as job searching, dressing for success, interviewing, table manners, grooming, etc.
- You can conduct Bible studies or worship services.
- You can provide information, as well as practical and spiritual help to the families of inmates.
- You can provide prayer support for prisoners, their families and those ministering to them.
- You can write, publish, and distribute Biblically based training material specifically designed for prison inmates.
- You can provide Bibles and Christian literature for inmates.
- You can provide administrative support to Prison Ministry, to include reviewing and grading Bible studies.
To find out if your personality and your passion is a fit for prison ministry, sign up for the next Growth Track series at LPC beginning in the first week of September.
If you feel a sense of mission to take the love and truth of Jesus Christ behind prison walls and help prisoners navigate the road to transformation, please contact Kevin or Catherine Hyland. In order to visit inmates or teach within the prisons, you must become certified as a volunteer through TDCJ. You will need to complete a background check and attend training. The next TDCJ volunteer training session will be held in early October. If you are interested in attending, please contact us.
For more information on prayer support, please contact Lisa Nyquist. You may contact Jonathan Bernard if you’d like to participate in the Prison Correspondence Ministry.
The links below provide more information on Prison Fellowship, as well as The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI). The Prison Ministry at LPC is working with both of these organizations to minister to inmates in Texas.
Published by Catherine Hyland