Prison can be a dark place, full of dangerous personalities and corrosive influences. Inmates who want to follow Christ must fight against a tide that threatens to push them back into old behaviors and thought patterns. Other inmates might be curious about Jesus, but, cynical about the value of “religion,” they balk at the idea of attending a chapel service. A third group – including inmates in lock-down or solitary confinement – may simply have no access to chapel services or Bible studies. Prison Fellowship created Inside Journal in 1991 to speak to all three groups, meeting them at their point of need through uplifting content that clearly communicates the Gospel.
Generous donors allow Prison Fellowship to circulate 122,000 copies of Inside Journal to more than 575 state, federal, county, and community corrections facilities four times a year. Having recently expanded into Delaware, it now reaches all 50 states.
Each edition contains true stories of former inmates whose lives have been transformed by Christ, and who are now agents of God’s grace in their communities. Inside Journal also carries timely news articles and biblical advice about topics relevant to inmates’ lives, like overcoming anger, recovering from sexual abuse, and parenting from behind bars. Most importantly, every single copy contains a fresh, relevant presentation of the Gospel message in language that inmates can understand – plus connections to correspondence Bible studies and other resources that will help inmates grow in their faith.
Inside Journal is popular with prison chaplains and prison ministry volunteers, who can sign up to receive bulk shipments to pass out to inmates at the correctional facilities where they serve. “It is such a wonderful ministry tool,” wrote Chaplain Mark Menhinick of Western Youth Institution. “Many inmates who would never read a Bible will read the Inside Journal … I would love to be able to give every inmate in segregation a copy.”
Because Inside Journal is printed and shipped in bulk, it costs only 10 cents per copy. A one-hundred dollar gift, for example, puts this evangelistic newspaper into the hands of 250 inmates for an entire year, where God uses it to change lives behind bars every day.
Recently two young women incarcerated in New York City wrote letters to Inside Journal using the front and back sides of a single sheet of paper – the only piece of paper they had between them! One wrote, “Recently I started to go to church here on Rikers Island and I received a copy of the summer 2012 Inside Journal … I realized that ultimately God is the judge and my undetermined amount of time here has felt that less of a burden. I read the [sinner’s] prayer in the section ‘Eternity or Bust’ and this is why I’m writing to you now. I have asked God back into my life and I want to get to know Him better.”
In response, the staff of Inside Journal sent both young women Bibles and the forms they needed to enroll in a correspondence Bible study for inmates, supporting them in their new-found faith journey.
To find out more about Inside Journal, or to read some previous Inside Journal issues, click here.