Getting involved in prison ministry is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am continually amazed at the individuals I meet in prison. Yes, there are some pretty bad guys in there (whom you will not meet for security reasons) but there are also some guys who simply made some really stupid choices. There are also some formerly really bad guys you’ll meet who will surprise you with their depth of character.
Did you know that more than half of the men in prison are there because of addiction to drugs or alcohol? The core issue of addiction manifests itself in many ways: theft, armed robbery, vehicular homicide, you name it. An addicted person will do whatever he needs to do in order to get the next fix. The alcoholic will start the day with the best of intentions but by the end of the day may be behind the wheel of a car.
Now, do not for one minute think I am excusing their behavior or that I feel sorry for them. I am not and I do not. They are receiving their just penalty as dictated by society.
What’s interesting though is that I’ve run into many men who served our country not only in peace but also in war. I’ve met a doctor and a dentist (but unfortunately no lawyers). I’ve met a cop who made a mistake when he saw how much money there was in the illegal drug business - and pilfered the evidence shelves. And, yes, I’ve met murderers who will be ‘in there’ as long as our ministry exists. Some men acted with premeditation. Many are there because of a crime of passion (as in caught their wife with another man).
I’ve served with a Christian ministry called Kairos. Through it, I’ve seen many men turn their lives around. Kairos is dedicated to bringing the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ into prisons. Now you may not be a Christian and/or may not wish to serve with a religious organization. That’s fine. There are many other organizations serving those incarcerated. A list of some of the ministries is located at the bottom of this article.
Side note: One thing I’d like to add for any Christian readers: Before my first visit to prison, I expected to meet superficial believers who had found ‘jailhouse religion’. What I found instead was a spiritual depth that challenged, and continues to challenge, my own Christian walk.
So, in summary, I would encourage to consider a prison ministry if you are looking to invest your time in serving others. Many of us donate money to tremendous causes and our nation is better for it. But if you are looking for a place to donate your time, please consider the ministries below. After all, when it comes to prison ministry, you pretty much just need to show up – and it’s about as safe an environment as you will ever find.
A couple great prison ministries are listed below.
Kairos Prison Ministry International Prison Fellowship
For any members of Alcholics Anonymous, AA also sponsors many in-prison events. After all, a sober former inmate is much more likely to stay a former inmate.
Of course, there are many other prison ministries as well. Simply key in 'prison ministry' on your favorite search engine. Don't be overwhelmed by the number of websites returned. Just pick one and check it out.
If you have any questions about how to get involved, please free to contact me as well: firstname.lastname@example.org