Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Increasingly, the great concern of legislators and departments of correction has been finding better ways to reduce recidivism—that tendency of former prisoners to relapse into criminal behavior. For too long, our nation has poured enormous human and financial resources in warehousing men and women who have committed crimes. Yet the best efforts of corrections officials have not significantly reduced recidivism over the years.
At Prison Fellowship, our primary focus is not on cutting recidivism, yet our efforts are making a huge difference in changing behavior!
Jesus made it clear. His purpose in coming to earth as to seek and to save that which was lost. He didn’t come to reduce crime. He came to change men and women! And as He encountered them, they would repent of their past attitudes, words, and behaviors and surrender their lives to Him.
From our earliest days, Prison Fellowship has boldly proclaimed the Gospel in prisons around the world. But prison ministry is much more than evangelism. It includes making disciples—committed followers of Christ—who allow God’s word to shape every aspect of their lives!
A disciple is far more than one who no longer commits crimes. A disciple is a man or woman who is being conformed to the image of Christ. Disciples learn to view all of life through a biblical worldview. Their minds are being renewed day by day.
As these changes occur we also seek to prepare prisoners for the challenges they will face upon leaving prison and returning to the community. Practical skills such as anger management, becoming a good spouse and parent, and learning how to function in a work environment are all necessary to live a new, Christ-centered life in the community.
Finally, we seek to unite Christian men and women leaving prison with a vibrant church that will intentionally welcome them into their congregation and to match them with one or two mentors from their church family.
Yes, recidivism can be reduced. But it is essential to address crime at its root: the human heart. Our worldview shapes our values. Our values shape our behavior.
When the old things pass away, new things will indeed come!
Prison Fellowship is active in proclaiming the Gospel and creating disciples behind bars. Through evangelism events, mentoring, in-prison Bible studies, and reentry preparation, Prison Fellowship seeks to change hearts, preparing men and women to serve God in prison and beyond. To learn more about how you can be a part of this transformation, visit www.prisonfellowship.org/action/.