Before getting the chance to serve with Prison Fellowship Ministries, I spent nine years as the senior pastor of a church in western Michigan. Over time, the congregation learned to walk hand-in-hand with returning citizens on their way to rejoining the community, but it didn’t happen until I as a pastor and we as a church started to take Jesus seriously.
Matthew 25 makes it clear that Jesus wants us to visit the prisoner – along with the hungry, stranger, naked, thirsty, and sick. The Bible is full of mysteries, but there is nothing vague about those instructions!
As we started to take Jesus at His word, we also figured out that, in reality, we weren’t just serving the people we went to visit or feed – we were encountering Jesus. He was there! Once my congregation began to see that by serving prisoners and ex-prisoners, they were pouring love and worship on the feet of Jesus, it became impossible for us to resist the opportunity.
When we serve the “least of these” – including prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families – we are really accepting an invitation to love and serve the One who, for our sake, became a prisoner sentenced to death. As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, we have a special opportunity to bless prisoners and their families through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree® program. Let’s take Jesus seriously together; learn how you and your church can get involved at www.angeltree.org.