L.W.O.P. That stands for life without parole—a sentence that nearly 50,000 U.S. prisoners are serving.
In the last several years, the percentage of incarcerated men and women serving L.W.O.P has risen by more than 22 percent. And nearly one in four people sentenced to L.W.O.P. were convicted of crimes that occurred before they turned 18 years old. When these young men and women look into their futures, they see many decades behind bars with no hope of ever returning to their families or communities. It’s easy for them to give up on themselves when they find out good behavior and educational training will get them nowhere with the parole board.
But at Prison Fellowship we know that God values every life, and that men and women behind bars can experience freedom in Christ, too—no matter the length of their sentences.
This Easter, we’ll be going into prison to share this message with people who may have given up hope. We will proclaim that God can transform their lives and use their talents for His glory, even behind bars. They can be free in Him because Jesus paid the price for all of our sins.
Earlier this month at a commencement ceremony in Indiana State Prison, six incarcerated men graduated with a certificate in Christian studies from Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary. One of these graduates, Kelly Holland, is serving life without parole, but he’s grasped the hope of Christ, and that’s made all the difference.
“I am serving two life sentences without parole, better known as L.W.O.P.,” Kelly says. “I have changed those letters to mean something else. I will love, worship, obey and praise God. Every Christian should serve a sentence of L.W.O.P.”
As Easter Sunday nears, please join us in praying that, like Kelly, more men and women begin to love, worship, obey, and praise God behind bars, too.