Prison Fellowship

Frontlines: Mud, Sweat, and Ministry

By Prison Fellowship | Posted October 15, 2013

Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske recounts the extreme lengths he and his PF Racing teammates went to in order to complete a challenging obstacle race in Michigan – and raise support and awareness for families torn apart by incarceration. Whether it’s a hard-core endurance race, spreading the Gospel in dark places, or keeping a family together during a loved one’s imprisonment, Jim shares one secret that great achievements have in common.

 

 

To learn more about PF racing, visit www.pfracing.org.

Sacrifice and Celebration

By Jim Liske | Posted October 14, 2013

Jim Liske_200x300In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis uses the illustration of a son who asks his father for sixpence so that he can go and buy his father a birthday present. “Of course,” Lewis observes, “the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.”

Why is the father pleased with the child’s gift? It’s not about the stuff his son offers. It’s about his son’s desire to please his father and celebrate with him. It’s about a deeper, richer relationship than existed before.

What does it mean for us to “give back” to God? As Lewis rightly observes, we cannot give God anything that wasn’t already His in the first place. Stewardship isn’t about giving God our stuff – it’s about God refining our character and causing us to reach our potential in Jesus. He invites us into activity with Him, through the use of our time, talents, and finances, so that He can change our hearts.

This kind of stewardship is not a drive-thru transaction where we give to God for His blessing or approval. It’s about investing sacrificially in our relationship with Him and our relationship with others. It might take years for us to see the kind of fruit that our hearts truly long for, but that’s why we need to stay involved for the long term.

I hope that you’ll become involved with us for the long haul in the ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and families. Will it take sacrifice? Yes. Will it give us cause to celebrate? Beyond our wildest dreams.

Racing Toward Redemption

By Jenni Weatherly | Posted October 10, 2013

Burning lungs. Leaden legs. Pouring sweat. Why is anyone crazy enough to be drawn to running a race? Why is it such a timeless pursuit?

There’s an excellent quote from the book Born to Run that’s hard for any runner to forget: “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other… but to be with each other.”

Even for the severely competitive, it’s memorable because it’s true. Running a race, like so much else, is not about the thing itself, but about the people, and having a common thread. From a shared challenge comes a unity difficult to describe.

In Singapore, running was recently used in a beautiful way: to find unity and solidarity with prisoners.

A national movement known as the Yellow Ribbon Project held its 5th annual Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, a 10K race in Changi Village. The Project has used community events – such as races – to dig into societal norms and alter how people see and understand those who have been incarcerated. For the past 10 years, the campaign has become a national humanization effort, focused on eliminating the stigma relentlessly attached to ex-offenders when they return home.

And what’s more, this inspiring embrace of grace has been successful. It’s changed the way people across Singapore relate to one another.

(more…)

Christmas Miracles

By Carolyn Kincaid | Posted October 10, 2013

It had been a sad, bad day for 3-year-old Vincent, 5-year-old Angelica, and 9-year-old Joseph.

First, they learned that their dad, Santana, had been sent to jail … again.

Then, they were awakened from their naps when the ATF raided their home. Exhausted and afraid, the three children cuddled up with their mom, Danielle, in her bed that night, only to be awakened by rapid gunfire near their house — seven shots in all.

“The shots were so close I could smell the gunpowder,” Danielle recalls.

The next morning, as Danielle and the children got out of bed, they learned just how close those gunshots had been. A man with a vendetta against Santana had shot up their house, and their thick wooden bed frame was riddled with bullets.

The three children were lonely and afraid. And they stood at the brink of a long separation from Dad.

Soon after he went to prison, Santana had the opportunity to help reach out to his family through Angel Tree. Danielle and her children clung to the joy they received that Christmas from Angel Tree with all they had — because it WAS all they had.

(more…)

A Partnership of Police and Pastors

By Bekah Lowe | Posted October 9, 2013

Montgomery, Alabama, has had a high crime rate this year. There have been 39 counts of murder, making the city the most violent per capita in the U.S. This increase in crime might be explained in-part by a weak economy, high unemployment, poor public transportation, financial cuts to local mental health clinics, and the third highest incarceration rate in the U.S.

Unfortunately, these high incarceration rates are affecting the next generation as children with parents in prison are lacking a positive family influence.  Due to this generational cycle, crime rates could continue to climb if effective action isn’t taken.

The Montgomery Police Department is hoping it has a solution to the problem.

The MPD has enacted a publicly funded Christian ministry called Operation Good Shepherd, which will take pastors along with police officers to crime scenes so they can pray and talk with those people involved in the crime or accident.

Corp. David Hicks of the MPD hopes the police and Christians in the community can come together through this program to guide the next generation away from a path of crime by showing them compassion during times of crisis.

This summer, 37 pastors graduated from Operation Good Shepherd. These pastors are all volunteers, not paid for their work, but the MPD does incur administrative costs for the program. There is some concern that opponents will argue an evangelistic Christian ministry funded by taxpayers goes against the First Amendment. However, with funding limited in other rehabilitative programs, the MPD sees Operation Good Shepherd as a a necessary type of program to try.

Montgomery Chief of Police Kevin Murphy says, “… if we can sow some seeds today, we might see the fruits tomorrow.”

Life at the Center

By Jim Liske | Posted October 6, 2013

Jim Liske_200x300There are two basic ways of approaching our lives. One has to do with borders. When we are preoccupied with borders, we constantly ask ourselves, How close can I get to the edge? How fast can I drive and not get pulled over? How long can I look and still be faithful to my spouse? How little can I give and still be generous?

Focusing on borders drains the joys from our lives. It’s not about being filled with God’s righteousness and peace – it’s about following the letter of the law. And it’s dangerous to our souls. Jesus said that unless our righteousness goes beyond that of the Pharisees, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20).

The second way of approaching life is to focus on the center. In this paradigm, we ask ourselves how far we can press into the heart of God, how closely we can follow Jesus in every area of life. Putting our focus on the center is extraordinarily liberating. It frees us up to truly live the lives God is inviting us to live.

As we approach Christmas, Prison Fellowship is  preparing to serve 425,000 prisoners’ children with a Christmas gift and the Gospel delivered by volunteers in the name of their incarcerated parents. We don’t want to ask how little we can do and still meet our goal. We want to be in the very center of God’s will, asking Him to pour out His grace immeasurably into the lives of these children as we – along with thousands of partners just like you – offer Him all we have in this movement.

If this is one way God is calling you to come closer to the center with Him, visit www.angeltree.org today to learn more.

Churches Standing Up and Reaching out to Prisoners

By Daniel Pugh | Posted October 3, 2013

The following post originally appeared on the Justice Fellowship blog.

An August report released by the National Association of Evangelicals showed that 95% of evangelical leaders have been involved in regular ministry to prisoners. “It demonstrates the evangelical conviction that God offers redemption and reconciliation to all, regardless of what they have done,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).

Justice Fellowship is excited to see so many Christian leaders involved in encouraging and equipping the Church “behind the walls.” The report also noted evangelical leaders’ involvement in justice reform and the NAE’s own endorsement of the Smarter Sentencing Act (SSA). The SSA, a bipartisan bill endorsed by a diverse spectrum of faith groups and denominations, would lower mandatory minimums for some non-violent drug crimes and would give judges greater freedom to give sentences below the mandatory minimum for non-violent drug offenses. You can read Justice Fellowship’s press release on SSA here.

(more…)

How Does the Government Shutdown Affect the Justice System?

By Rebekah L. Stratton | Posted October 1, 2013

While we slept last night, Congress found itself in a stalemate on the terms of the Affordable Healthcare Act, propelling the U.S. federal government into its first shutdown in 17 years.

The federal government is the country’s largest supplier of jobs. Today more than 800,000 of the two million government employees are going into work for a few hours to check their voicemails, go through their emails, and get things in order for a furlough. These employees deemed non-essential will head home for an unpaid vacation until further notice, while a select group of essential employees will continue reporting to work to keep the departments running during the government’s partial shutdown. These employees probably won’t get paid until further down the line when Congress is divvying out money again. Of course, retro-active pay is never a guarantee during a shutdown.

While national parks and museums will be closed and 97 percent of NASA employees and 94 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency will be furloughed, departments closely related to public safety and national security will keep more employees reporting to work during the shutdown. The Department of Justice will see only 15 percent of its employees furloughed, but the Department of Defense will see 50 percent and the Department of Treasury will see 80 percent furloughed.

(more…)

Partnering for Change

By Steve Rempe | Posted September 30, 2013

These are difficult days to be a prison official.

As prison populations have exploded in the last decade, many departments of corrections have had to deal with budgetary cutbacks and fewer resources in their attempts to rehabilitate prisoners and to prepare them for release.  Often, the prisons are ill-equipped to handle the physical addictions and mental health issues that contributed to the prison growth in the first place, and when many of these inmates return to criminal activity, it is often the prison officials who are held up to increased scrutiny for their failure to reform.

Yet despite the many serious challenges facing the correctional system here in the United States, there is an opportunity for change.  In fact, it is precisely these same issues currently plaguing the system that also provide a foundation for fundamental reform.

In an editorial for the Omaha World-Herald, Prison Fellowship board member Bob Milligan suggests that the door is now open to partnerships between the private sector, faith-based organizations, and departments of corrections across the country.

“Just as education matters to more than elementary school teachers, crime prevention should not solely be a job for one department with limited resources,” says Milligan.  “It should involve all of society.”

(more…)

Redeemed Lives

By Jim Liske | Posted September 27, 2013

Jim_Liske_2_200x300My wife Cathy and I always tried to make sure that our home was a place where our kids and their friends could hang out. We had a system – as long as our garage door was open, our kids’ friends were free to come in. They didn’t even have to knock.

We kept the refrigerator stocked with cans of pop for them to drink. In Michigan, those cans were redeemable for 10 cents. So, every now and then, we’d take a bunch of sticky, crumpled, ant-attracting pop cans down to the grocery store and put them into this machine. The machine would take our cans and give us back cash. In that process of redemption, those thrown-away cans would again have use and value.

A similar thing happens to us when God redeems us. He puts us through a process. He restores value, meaning, and purpose to our lives. That redemption might not always look like we imagine. When Jesus came, He confused His disciples by not restoring Israel to a position of military and political dominance. But nevertheless, He redeems us. He takes our broken pieces, the parts of ourselves we try to hide, and He assigns them value in His economy.

What has God redeemed in you that now He wants to use to advance His work of redemption for the whole world? Remember: God can’t do something through you until He has done something in you.

Not one of us is perfect, but we all have great value if we place ourselves in God’s hands. I invite you to see how He might redeem and use every part of your life to also help redeem others. Learn how today at prisonfellowship.org.




Prison Fellowship is a 501(c)(3) organization   •   44180 Riverside Parkway, Lansdowne, VA 20176   •   (877) 478-0100   •   Privacy Policy   •   Copyright © 2015