In the Old Testament we read how Nehemiah, a Jew in exile from his homeland, learned about the state of the survivors. The bearers of bad news told him, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.
“Several years of prison ministry have convinced me that there are substantial parallels between what we think about incarceration and how we understand salvation.” So says religion professor Stephen Webb. In a recent article for First Things, Webb asserts that in order for spiritual renewal to take place in the United States, Christians must first turn their focus to the prison system.
It’s said that the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo never knew what he was going to sculpt when he started. When a piece of marble was delivered to him, he would examine it, and he would envision the form trapped inside it, waiting to be revealed with his hammer and chisel.
At Prison Fellowship, we don’t want to do ministry to prisoners. We want to do ministry with prisoners. That one little word makes a big difference. Prisoners aren’t our projects – they are our partners. As you and I walk with them on the road to restoration, men and women behind bars become leaders of the Church behind the walls … sharing the Gospel and discipling those around them, serving their families, and preparing for a new life back in the community.
Scottie Barnes knows what it is like to grow up without a father present in her life.
A version of the following story originally aired as a BreakPoint commentary on August 19.
A few months ago, at a conference on juvenile justice reform at Fordham University, Prison Fellowship President and CEO Jim Liske had made remarks that the key to criminal justice reform is, as Chuck Colson so often proclaimed, seeing offenders as made in the image of God.
For the last 20 years, the Willow Creek Association has presented the Global Leadership Summit, a two-day event that brings together leaders from both the business and church spheres. This year the event was broadcast via satellite to over 300 venues around the world – including three locations not often considered for their leadership potential.