In the Bible, a period of 40 years represents a generation. I’ve been thinking about this as Prison Fellowship prepares to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.
In the generation since Chuck Colson founded Prison Fellowship, America has gone from incarcerating just over 200,000 people to more than 2.2 million. What has happened to the families of those millions of prisoners? Have their children fallen into the same snares? Has the “corrections” system truly offered correction to this most recent generation?
Much about our criminal justice system still needs urgent attention, but as I look back on the last 40 years—and at the present day—I find reasons for joyful celebration and hopeful anticipation.
In the last generation, God has claimed countless trophies of His redemptive love and grace. Some of these changed lives are now integral parts of Prison Fellowship’s ministry as staff or volunteers. Others are partners who lead their own ministries, and many more are godly members of their homes, churches, and workplaces.
In the last generation, God has opened our nation’s eyes to the consequences of a justice system that does not restore those affected by crime. Now we are seeing unparalleled consensus about the need to enact reforms that make people more whole, so they can rejoin society as good neighbors.
As a ministry, we are standing on the threshold of great opportunity—the kind that only comes once in a generation. Wardens, legislators, prisoners, families, and churches are all crying out for the same thing—restoration for those affected by crime and incarceration. By God’s unending grace, we stand ready to serve and replace the cycle of crime with a cycle of renewal