Robert hasn’t been in prison long. But prison didn’t take long to change Robert’s life.
He didn’t handle incarceration well at first. He knew he was in a bad spot and wasn’t sure how to cope. If it weren’t for the family he found behind bars, he would still be stuck in that negative mindset.
FINDING FAITH IN PRISON
Faith has kept Robert going while he’s behind bars—a faith that lay dormant for years.
Robert had grown up in the church, he says, “but I wasn’t taking Jesus Christ very seriously.”
Less than a year ago, Robert joined the Prison Fellowship Academy™ at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP). The Academy takes men and women through holistic life transformation, where they are guided by Prison Fellowship® staff and volunteers to lead lives of purpose and productivity inside and outside of prison.
Joining the Academy changed everything for Robert—his internal life and his experience in prison.
“When I joined the Prison Fellowship [Academy], everything just opened up again.”
Ideally, men and women who join the Academy have the opportunity to live with fellow students in Prison Fellowship units. Shoulder-to-shoulder, bed-to-bed life is hard for prisoners. But living in close quarters is made easier when everyone has a similar set of values and state of mind.
“It’s a lot more peaceful living around other men who participate in the Prison Fellowship Academy,” Robert explains. Academy classes help incarcerated men and women learn how to take control of their lives. Course instructors equip the students to better manage their lives behind bars, and prepare them for life on the outside. The first step is to help them communicate in healthier ways and to live at peace with those around them.
“I think the thing I enjoy the most about it is the collaboration between [prisoners],” Robert says. “You learn how to build a relationship. You learn how to build a community.”
Robert hasn’t been behind bars long, but he’s had time to learn what he needs to thrive.
“I’ve only been inside NSP for about four years,” Robert says. “It’s an unfortunate situation turned into a really great positive.”
Discovering a community and finding Jesus in prison changed Robert’s life. Jesus, through the Prison Fellowship Academy, changed his mind, and it changed the way he communicates with his family.
Robert’s message to anyone going to prison is a simple one: “A faith-based program is a necessity. I think without it, you’re just doing time.”