Jul 29, 2013

Why I Got Invovled In Prison Ministry

If you had told me 4 months ago that I would be involved in Prison Ministry, I would you have told you that you are a french fry short of a happy meal. Sure, I grew up in church and I had often heard Matthew 28:35-40:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 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, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

So yeah... We are suppose to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, blah... blah... blah. So we throw a few buck in the offering for the missionary or the outreach or whatever and then we feel better about ourselves and move on with our lives. Rarely in the American church are we mobilized to action.

And then Prison Ministry carries an additional point of resistance.... Usually if you are in jail, you are there for a reason. Anyone can have a crisis and wind up poor or hungry. Sometimes life happens to you. But going to jail means you were bad. You broke the rules. You messed up, you got caught and now you are serving out your punishment.... So why should you get a special dose of ministry?

Here's the conclusion I've come to in the last few days. Regardless of what got someone in prison, it happened in the past. You can't change it. All you can do is move forward from here. Studies show that approximately 94% of all inmates are eventually released. So most people incarcerated today will be getting out at some point. The very sad thing is the 66% (that is 2 out of 3) of those released will wind up back in prison within three years. That tells me despite the great men & women working in the system, the system is broken. A 33% success rate is a complete failure.

If you want different results, you  have to do things differently. If we want to stop the destructive cycle, we have to do all we can to equip these men & women with the tools they need to succeed. That includes counseling, teaching job skills, helping with substance abuse and it must include teaching in basic personal finances.

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University has been taught across the nation for over 20 years with millions of families participating. I've been coordination Financial Peace classes in Wasilla for over 5 years, leading over a dozen classes and over 250 people being a part. Financial Peace University is a proven, effective tool in teaching people to handle money the way God intended.

I was reading Romans 10:14-15 the other day, which says:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?

That word "sent" could also be interpreted as "sent on a specific mission." That means not just saying I'm going to the grocery store, but saying I'm going to the store to get eggs, milk & cheese. So I have a clear mission that I am being sent on. When these inmates are released, they face the challenge of finding housing, transportation and employment. Many of them will have old debts to deal with and restitution for their crimes. My mission is to make sure they face these obstacles with the knowledge of what it is going to take to be successful.

If you'd like to help me with this, you can read the details here...

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