Twenty-five percent of the prisoners confined to the Goose Creek Corrections Center near Wasilla, come from the “bush country”—the primitive and roadless area on Alaska’s west coast. The area is largely unchurched, and high rates of suicide, alcohol, and drug abuse are plaguing the remote communities.
While prison may sound like the “end of the road” for the men sent there, it actually is a new beginning for many. For even in this isolated facility, Christian volunteers are bringing hope, reconciliation, and restoration to the inmate population.
The prison is 35 miles from town, accessed by a two-lane road that is dark and snowbound much of the year. Yet these volunteers make the journey weekly.
Worship services, Bible studies, classes in Christian living, and even seminary-level training is offered, and it is making a huge difference in the lives of the prisoners. For example, volunteers Scott Thompson, Barney Swaney, and others are leading two TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute) classes at the prison. These intensive four-year courses are preparing men to serve in Christian leadership roles.
The classes are already having a positive impact on the prison. As participants fulfill the requirements of the class, they plan and conduct ministry projects that give practical application to the topics they are studying. In doing so, they are touching the lives of many of their fellow prisoners.
But that is not where the blessing ends, because most TUMI class members will eventually be released and will return to the communities where they lived prior to their incarceration.
They left as outcasts, but they return as missionaries, pastors, teachers, and other skilled Christian workers. Once thought of as rejects from society, these former prisoners are returning to bring hope and healing to their communities!
There are thousands of men and women serving Christ in the prisons across our nation. Are you one of them? We’d love to hear from you! How is God using your faithful efforts to make His kingdom visible in the prisons and communities where you serve?
Great things are happening in our prisons, yet there is so much more that can be accomplished! Please visit https://www.prisonfellowship.org/action to find out how you can get involved.
Mark Hubbell is the Prison Fellowship area director for the Northwest region.