At a recent conference in England I had the opportunity to hear Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek. Bill has often said that “the local church is the hope of the world.” I couldn’t agree more! As the Body of Christ, who is the Light of the World, the local church is God’s Plan A to heal the woundedness of individuals, families, and the culture.
As part of the community, a local church has a unique sensitivity to the needs of its culture and its neighbors. It knows who is hurting and why. A local church speaks the language of the people it wants to help and introduce to Jesus. That’s why Prison Fellowship is committed to equipping local churches to receive men and women when they come out of prison, and also to minister to prisoners’ families through programs like Angel Tree Christmas, Angel Tree Camping, and Angel Tree Mentoring.
We also partner with local churches when they just happen to be behind bars. As men and women come to know Jesus and be discipled in their Christian faith, they become “indigenous missionaries” in their jails and prisons. Their witness is credible, because they know exactly how prisoners think and feel. They speak the unique language of the prison environment. That’s what’s so exciting to me about Prisoners to Pastors, a rigorous, seminar-level curriculum being offered to prisoners in an ever-increasing number of facilities. We are equipping the local church behind the walls – an incredibly powerful missionary force – to more effectively preach the Gospel and make disciples behind bars!