Q&A with Focus on the Family's John McKeever
Prison Fellowship: How is Focus on the Family partnering with Prison Fellowship?
JOHN: Focus on the Family's family radio program, Adventures in Odyssey, is partnering with Prison Fellowship to highlight the ministry and the Angel Tree program. Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) presents original children's audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience.
The AIO Club is for kids ages 8-12. It’s where kids and families connect to content and activities to enjoy together. Focus likes to highlight different ministries to raise awareness for missions with kids.
I work in marketing and on the fundraising team, and I had given a devotional to the content team here at Focus, where I shared about my Prison Fellowship volunteer experience.
How did you get involved with Prison Fellowship?
Right after college, I went on a prison visit in Baltimore with Prison Fellowship. It was a weekend event. Chuck was there, and they had a choir, and volunteers met in small groups with the prisoners. I know there was an impact on the prisoners with so many people coming in to care for them, but I left more ministered [to]. The experience broke a lot of stereotypes I previously had of prisoners. My family comes from a legal background; my father was a homicide prosecutor.
What were some of your expectations going in?
Obviously, you're intimidated a little bit: "Is it safe?" and all those other emotions. It was a really cloudy day, and it was raining, and the prison was very intimidating. It was old, looked like a castle, had this overall dreary look.
I remember going through security. Unescorted, I walked down this corridor toward the meeting I was there for. This man met me in the hall in a red sweatshirt and blue jeans, and I didn't realize at the time that he was a prisoner. I have a photo of him and I. He was so friendly, and it just put me at ease.
What’s something that surprised you that day?
I was surprised to learn that prison ministry was about Bible study and encouragement, not necessarily just evangelism. In the meeting area, there were lots of people, and one prisoner who was a believer was extremely friendly from the start. The worship and the testimonies were really powerful.
One prisoner was sharing his testimony in our small group. He'd been in for quite a while, and we were told not to ask why, but he said he'd be incarcerated for most of his life. He said that since coming to Christ, he was more free in prison than he’d been in the streets. That challenged me. I remember leaving very encouraged and wanting to be used by the Lord. I saw hope in there.
What's something you didn’t know or understand about prison until this visit?
How did that experience strengthen or grow your own faith?
Then you enter these prison rooms and hear men talk about their changed lives. It reminded me that the words I read in the Bible are real. They're not just words on paper.
Volunteering in prison is a faith-building experience. It's not just a sterile, intellectual Christianity any more. It gave me a vision for wanting to be engaged in God’s Kingdom. If anyone is in Christ, the old is gone, the new has come, and that's something I really saw.
What would you say to someone who might consider getting involved in prison ministry?
Don't be owned by fear, or you will miss out on seeing God's Kingdom flourish. … Be someone who desires to refresh someone else. That's the mindset that brings us most joy in life. Take a step out of yourself to be used by the Lord. You're building a vision constantly in your life by saying yes to different opportunities.
Let's be in the business of loving others and getting messy and seeing how God works. You'll be transformed.
DID YOU ENJOY THIS ARTICLE?
Make sure you don' t miss out on any of our helpful articles and incredible transformation stories! Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, and you' ll get great content delivered directly to your inbox.
Your privacy is safe with us. We will never sell, trade, or share your personal information.