Prison Ministry

Melvin Mitchell
Director
mitchellm@awconf.org

Overview

The litigious society in which we live dictates to legislators andprison officials the need to rid society of an individual guilty of felo-nious behavior. The physical depositories are known as prisons,which are considered to be instruments of control. The word “cor-rection” signifies a change in behavior and suggests rehabilitation.However, this is a misnomer. In reality the attitude is simply out ofsight, out of mind. Although an individual has been eliminated fromsociety for a season (and 98.6 percent of incarcerated felonseventually return to society) the work of regeneration must be initi-ated within the hearts of offenders behind the walls lest they returnto society worse off than they were at the time of incarceration.The church has not been in sync with the significance and therelevancy of ministering behind the walls. Maybe that’s because itis not a glorious ministry—or is it because inmates don’t pay titheto the church, or have no apparent accountability to church hierar-chy? Perhaps for all these reasons, ministry to inmates has beenput on a back burner with little interest in making it a priority in theSeventh-day Adventist Church. The significance of Prison Ministries is clearly stated inMatthew 25:35-40: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye tookme in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: Iwas in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous an-swer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fedthee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee astranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or whensaw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the Kingshall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuchas ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye havedone it to me” (KJV).

Be involved with our ministry, ask about:

•Personal Hygiene Kits: Make up personal hygiene kits and supply them to the chaplain for indigent inmates.

•Clothing: Supply clothes for inmates who are being released from prison. Help the chaplain and the counseling staff to be aware of this ministry.

•Van: Transport inmates’ spouses and children to the prisons to see their loved ones. This ministry is for families who live at a distance and who have no transportation. Ask the chaplain to inform the inmates of this service. Keep logs, addresses, and phone numbers of those who benefit from this ministry. Share religious literature with them.

•Literature: Support Prison Ministries with money to keep the ministry supplied with Bibles, tracts, Bible studies, and other needed materials.19

•Prayer: Organize a group of prayer warriors who consistently pray for the Prison Ministries team each week.

•Support Groups: Start support groups for wives, fiancés,and families of inmates. Families are serving time with their loved ones. Hold support group meetings at your church once a week for one hour.

•Pen Pal: Correspond with inmates who are with-out family or who do not receive correspondence from the outside world. Keep all correspondence above board.Don’t write letters that would suggest an intimate relation-ship. Give out no phone numbers, addresses, or names except for a pen name. Use the address of the church or aP.O. Box address

Mission

We are the best communicators of God’s grace to those whoare behind prison walls. We are the conduit pipes in which Hislove flows to those who have been ostracized by society. Jesusadmonishes us to throw out the nets and fish. The net will reveal avast variety of fish. It is not the duty of Christ’s workers to cleanany of the fish that have been caught in the net. That is the job ofthe Holy Spirit.