Jim Liske

A Dream Realized

By Jim Liske | Posted January 26, 2015

   It was just a few months before Chuck went home to Jesus. We were sitting in his home in Naples, Florida, and he was “schooling” me, as he did several times in the nine months he and I were together at Prison Fellowship. On this particular afternoon, he was flipping through his ever-present yellow legal pad, talking about his special passion for ministry in the federal prison system. Chuck served seven months in the federal system, and it was there God touched his heart and lit the fire of future ministry.

Chuck went on to talk about how we needed to find a way to convey the message of restoration and redemption to the Department of Justice because, he believed, “if they could just see the change that takes place in a prison when the inmates come to Jesus and live out their faith, they will want us in every prison in the country!” I can still hear the passion transparently displayed in his voice and see it on his face.

Late in 2014, the Department of Justice announced the formation of the Chuck Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. This Task Force, a nine-member, bipartisan commission, will make recommendations to shape the federal prison system into a more effective, redemptive institution. I have been asked to serve on the Task Force to represent Prison Fellowship Ministries, Chuck’s point of view, and prisoners and their families across the country. Though Chuck has gone home, God is giving him his heart’s desire. We now have a profound opportunity to influence the future of federal corrections!

What Is Justice?

By Jim Liske | Posted January 20, 2015

   In the Bible, justice is about much more than fairness or catching and punishing “bad guys.” Biblical, or restorative, justice centers focus on restoring everyone affected by wrongdoing—including the offender, the victim, and the community around them. It’s based on shalom, a Hebrew term encompassing peace, wholeness, righteousness, and harmony.

Justice Fellowship is the arm of Prison Fellowship Ministries that promotes the principles of restorative justice in the public square, advocating for laws and policies that reflect the human dignity and value of each person affected by the cycle of crime and incarceration. We envision a criminal justice system in which those who violate the law are held accountable and restored to their full potential, victims are respected and supported, and communities and churches are deeply involved in the work of restoration.

One of the most important places we need to see restorative justice is in the laws of our respective states and the country as a whole. Since 1993, Justice Fellowship has fought for important reforms like the Second Chance Act, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and the Fair Sentencing Act, as well as legislation at the state level. But we’ve never fought alone. Friends like you step up to call your representatives, write letters, ask for meetings, and make informed decisions about criminal justice in your community and your state.

Would you like to be a part of establishing biblical principles of restorative justice in your community? Learn how by clicking here.

Looking Back on 2014

By Rebekah L. Stratton | Posted January 16, 2015

AT party Baltimore 2014 093 vWith the help of so many volunteers and partners around the country, Prison Fellowship spent 2014 bringing the Gospel to prisoners, helping former prisoners successfully return to their communities, and supporting families affected by crime and incarceration. This past year, thousands of men and women behind bars surrendered their hearts to Christ, and 50 new “bridge churches” began walking alongside newly released men and women. We’ve seen God work through Prison Fellowship and our partners to transform lives and equip Christian leaders to change the culture of prisons and communities.

Here are just a few of the incredible ways God propelled prison ministry, justice advocacy, and Christian leadership forward last year:

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New Year, New Habit

By Jim Liske | Posted January 15, 2015

   “This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters … See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:16, 19 (NIV)

I love this time of the year. We take a little time with our families to relax, unwind, and marvel at what God has done in the past 12 months—all the ways He has showed up when we needed Him to, and everything He has taught us along the way.

As a ministry, PFM takes stock of all the challenges God has brought us through since our founding. Like the people of Israel remembering their redemption from the land of Egypt, we recall how God brought Chuck Colson out of prison and gave him a ground-breaking vision … how over and over again God has brought us funding and favor with officials so that the work can continue to grow … how friends like you have partnered with us over decades with your faithful sharing of time, prayer, and resources.

We also look ahead to the challenges and opportunities that 2015 holds. God is doing exciting new things. He is truly making “a way in the wilderness” for prisoners, families, and all those affected by the cycle of crime and incarceration.

As you start a New Year, I’d like to invite you to adopt a new habit: Join the Prison Fellowship Prayer Team, a growing community of prayer warriors committed to paving a smooth road for restoration by interceding for specific needs of the ministry and those we serve. Check it out today.

Sharing Our Inheritance

By Jim Liske | Posted December 22, 2014

   If you found out tomorrow that you had received a sizable inheritance, what would you do with it? Pay off debt? Buy a new car? Take a vacation?

This month William, a prisoner serving a lengthy sentence in Virginia, did something astounding with an inheritance he received: He gave a substantial portion of it to Angel Tree, so that the children with an incarcerated parent can receive a Christmas gift and the Good News of Jesus Christ. A letter enclosed with his gift said simply that he “wanted to share.”

As believers in Jesus, we also have received an incredible legacy. In Ephesians 1:11-14, Paul writes, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Our inheritance as Christians is not meant to be hoarded, but joyfully shared with others through words and actions as we spread the message of the Gospel. It’s simply too good to keep to ourselves. Will you, like William, help us spread the Good News of Jesus Christ with prisoners, their families, and all those affected by the cycle of crime and incarceration? Learn more today by visiting www.prisonfellowship.org.

The Miracle of Angel Tree

By Jim Liske | Posted December 15, 2014

Liske_154Angel Tree blesses hundreds of thousands of children each year, but did you know that it also leads their incarcerated parents closer to Jesus?

At a time of year that can be full of sorrow for parents separated from their children, Angel Tree allows moms and dads to reach out from behind prison bars with a message of love for their families. As friends like you enable them to have a moment of connection, wounded hearts begin to heal from the pain and shame of the past.

A prison chaplain in California wrote to me just last month to let me know the difference Angel Tree makes for the men in his facility, but his words of thanks really go to you:

“The gift of Angel Tree for the men here comes from your organization, and it is a huge blessing. These men are separated from their children and broken-hearted. You help heal some of those wounds with the miracle of Angel Tree. I love how your ministry follows up with the families who receive Angel Tree donations and benefits from hearing the good news and being connected to a church family. God bless all of you and from the men here … a huge Thank YOU! Keep doing what you are doing.”

The Angel Tree program helps chaplains build bridges of trust with prisoners, who may become more open to asking for a Bible or attending a chapel service once they see that people like you truly care for them and their families. Your investment in Angel Tree keeps paying off all year long, with parents as well as children!

To learn more about Angel Tree and how you can help, visit www.angeltree.org.

ThanksMas

By Jim Liske | Posted December 10, 2014

   My wife Cathy’s family calls this time of year ThanksMas. As Cathy’s brothers married, and we all moved away and starting having kids, her family made up this holiday to create a time to gather. The meal consists of both Thanksgiving and Christmas fare, and we give gifts. We play games and enjoy a weekend together without the pressure of needing to leave and visit with other relatives.

I have always enjoyed ThanksMas because it combines the focus of thanksgiving on what I am the most thankful for: Jesus, God with us. Our Heavenly Father, in His empathic love, came to us and pursued us, so that we could become part of His family. All else I am thankful for in this life flows from that supreme act of kindness.

As we move into the Angel Tree Christmas season, Cathy and I are eager to share about God’s great gift with the children and families of incarcerated parents. As we reflect on His generosity to us during this season, it seems only natural to share the Good News with the most vulnerable among us. The message that has been giving hope to the hopeless for two millennia is no less powerful today!

If you’ve been wanting to get involved in Angel Tree this Christmas, it’s not too late. Learn more about opportunities to give and serve by calling 1-800-55-ANGEL today. And have a Happy ThanksMas!

A Day of Thanksgiving

By Jim Liske | Posted December 1, 2014

Liske_154President Abraham Lincoln signed a document in 1863, declaring a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” to fall on the last Thursday in November.

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation came not at the victorious conclusion of the war, as might have been expected, but in the midst of its stormiest days, when the future of the country was far from certain. Likewise the holidays don’t always find us when we feel like celebrating. Sometimes we are in the middle of life’s biggest battles—illness, loneliness, grief, poverty, or depression might be pressing us hard.

But we can praise God just as sincerely in the middle of a hard-fought battle. Jesus often thanked His Father in the hour of need, before He performed a major miracle.

Ministry to prisoners, families, and all those affected by crime is rarely simple and often very difficult. But in the midst of the battle to bring hope and restoration to the lives of the broken, I give thanks to God that you are fighting alongside us for the cause of the Gospel. And together, we can already give thanks for the victory over sin Jesus purchased by His death and resurrection.

Every time I walk into a prison, meet a governor, speak in a church, or hug a prisoner’s child, I tell them how thankful I am for you. When I ask myself if there is hope for the incarcerated, I praise God that you are giving us the resources and energy to serve prisoners and their families. The battle might not be over, but victory is sure, and we get to usher it in together! And that’s a reason for thanksgiving indeed

Meet Your Dividend

By Jim Liske | Posted November 24, 2014

Liske_154At a recent event in New York City, I was privileged to introduce Quovadis Marshall to a group pf people who financially support the ministries of Prison Fellowship.

“Q,” as we call him, shared his story: He was raised in poverty by a single mom who worked diligently to feed her kids. His grandma took him to church regularly, and he decided to follow Jesus in his late teens.

As a young man, however, Q ran into trouble with the law. In a heartbreaking picture of the cycle of crime, he wound up in prison at the same time as his father. But Q’s story was only just beginning behind bars.

Q entered a Prison Fellowship program, resumed his walk with Jesus, and began to take his faith more seriously than ever before. Since his release, Q has been a godly husband, father, and servant of the Lord. He is a prayer warrior. We were able to bring him on staff, and he is now leading a prisoner prayer movement.

When Q finished speaking, I asked he people in the room how the stock market had done that day. A round of groans followed, since Wall Street had performed poorly. I then put my arm around Q and said to my friends, “This is the dividend on your investment in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

As you invest in eternal things, the impact of redemption grows, spreading from changed life to changed life. Stocks may go up and down, but the Kingdom’s value never falls. Learn how to join this work financially today by clicking here.

Loving the Littlest

By Jim Liske | Posted November 17, 2014

Liske_154In the conversation about building safer communities, it’s easy to get caught up in the big topics: record-breaking incarceration rates, headline-grabbing crime trends, and large pieces of criminal justice legislation.

But it’s often the littlest ones among us who are hurt the most by crime. Young children do not understand the reasons for a parent’s absence, and older children feel hurt, betrayed, and confused. The incarceration of a parent will have a massive impact on a child’s present and future, yet they often get pushed to the side.

Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program shines the spotlight on boys and girls on the margins of society. In word and deed, volunteers show prisoners’ children they are special, beloved, and worthy of time and attention, as they present them with a Christmas gift, the Gospel message, and a personal note from their parent.

Thousands of churches are already partnering with Angel Tree to serve children this Christmas, but we need more, especially in the areas of greatest need. Would you and your church consider coming on board? There’s still time!

Here are the top five counties with the greatest unmet need:

  • Los Angeles County (CA): 699 children
  • Hidalgo (TX): 641 children
  • Shelby (TN): 612 children
  • Saint Louis (MO): 533 children
  • Wayne (MI): 480 children

Is your church in one of these counties, or do you know someone who is? Is the Spirit leading you to take a step of faith and obedience to love the littlest victims of crime? Call 1-800-55-ANGEL to speak with an Angel Tree program specialist today.




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