There is a Church behind bars. These letters reveal the thriving faith community that is transforming prison culture.
Around the world, Christians are observing Holy Week in anticipation of Easter Sunday. The good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected will be heard in cathedrals, churches … and prison cells.
For more than 40 years, Prison Fellowship® has been going into correctional facilities, sharing the good news of Jesus with those behind bars, and offering the hope of true transformation. Through the use of Bible-based programming, and with the help of thousands of committed volunteers, lives are being changed, hope is being restored, and darkness is being replaced with the promise of a future.
Below are several letters from people in prisons across the nation. Read on to discover how Jesus is building His Church behind bars. This Easter, the name of Jesus will be proclaimed in some of the darkest and most forgotten corners of America. Please remember these voices as you observe and celebrate redemption this week.
AN ACT OF KINDNESS
My name is Jason. I'm the father of D—, the child you bought gifts for this past Christmas. I just want you to know [that] meant the world to me, though I'm mighty embarrassed about the fact that I'm in my current predicament and couldn't do it myself; your act of kindness made my holiday season much more endurable. I haven't seen or heard anything about my son in over a year, so having him get something from you for me so he knows I think about him all the time was a huge deal for me. True charity isn't just what we do for others, but what we do for others when we don't have to. I hope [someday] to pay your act of kindness forward. I have no idea when I'll get to see my son again, but at least he knows I am always thinking of him. He is an amazing boy who luckily looks like his mother, and I'm positive you made his Christmas better as you did mine.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING
You sent gifts to my son for Christmas while I am incarcerated here. For that, I am so grateful. You were able to do something for him that I was not able to do, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. My son loved his gifts, and though I couldn't see him open them, I could hear his happiness in his voice over the phone. It also took some stress off my mother who is currently taking care of him. It taught me that giving is so important and how wonderful your organization is. I hope that you are able to continue to help people for many, many years to come. I hope it also showed [my] son the real gift of receiving the gifts that he did. I will continue to do anything and everything I can here and when I am released to spread the word of giving back and volunteering at organizations like yours. [I] won't ever forget how amazing you guys are and how blessed you made my family feel. Again, thank you so very much, and God bless you all at Angel Tree.
Every child has a story. For 2.7 million children in the U.S. with a mom or dad in prison, that story may be one of feeling abandoned, lonely, or ashamed because of their parent's situation. Angel Tree®, a program of Prison Fellowship, reaches out to the children of prisoners and their families with the love of Christ. This unique program gives you an opportunity to share God's love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.
BETTER DAYS AHEAD
I've recently been sentenced to serve two life terms. I've been feeling as if there is no reason to keep on living and can't imagine living the rest of my life in prison. I am feeling so helpless and alone. … I've thought about suicide on a daily basis because I cannot see another out from the pain and suffering I'm dealing with physically and mentally. I am lost and can't find my way.
I recently came across [Inside Journal] that has, through the articles and stories, given me hope and inspiration to not give up on life and to turn to God for companionship when I am lonely and seek help when I'm in need. Through prayer I have received the strength to keep fighting … and leave my future in God's hands. … Since I've started praying to God for forgiveness, salvation, and guidance, I'm feeling a connection I can't explain in words, but I know in my heart that through God, there will be better days ahead. I'm writing this letter to say thank you for producing Inside Journal . It gave me strength when I desperately needed it.
Inside Journal®, Prison Fellowship's quarterly newspaper for prisoners, goes out to hundreds of thousands of prisoners at correctional facilities in all 50 U.S. states and Mexico. Written specifically for incarcerated readers, each issue (offered in a men's edition, a women's edition, and a Spanish-language edition) explains the Gospel in a fresh way, offers encouragement and motivation, and shares practical advice for dealing with the daily struggles of prison life. Distributed to prisoners via chaplains, program coordinators, and in-prison volunteers, Inside Journal provides a unique way to share the hope of Jesus with those who may never attend a chapel service or Bible study.
BIBLES FOR PRISONERS
LIVING IN THE FULLNESS OF LIFE
I'm just writing in order to thank the Prison Fellowship group that I have on Wednesdays and the Inside Journal for the Life Recovery Bible that I received from you. It helps me grow spiritually and also helps me keep my recovery on track. I'm blessed to have this book because being rooted in faith as children of God, to live in the fullness of the new life God intends, we learn to become comfortable living in the spiritual realm one we cannot see. Satan delights in calling our attention to circumstances opposing the promise of God we know to be true.
God's Word changes lives, and men and women inside America's prisons need their hearts changed before they return to communities on the outside. Many prisoners from all 50 states ask every day for just one thing: A Bible. Because of various restrictions and needs prisoners have, it can be hard to obtain Bibles behind bars. If you would like to participate in donating Bibles for prisoners, join us. Your gift today puts Bibles directly into their hands.
GOOD FRIDAY 2018 HOPE EVENT
A TIME OF WORSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP
I want to take the time and thank the Lord for a great time of bonding and fellowship that we had together … on Good Friday  here at Coffeewood Correctional Center. The life-changing testimonies and the worship and praise from voices of God's people from different nations around the world—along with being in the house of God and the presence of God—I embrace with joy. I thank all of you for your faithfulness and devotion to the ministry God placed you in and for your love and prayers. I thank God for all of you, and I thank God for choosing sister Nancy for her listening heart and ears when I was sharing with her what I wanted her to pray for. I was a little shy, but I'm thankful and bless her concern. Bless her heart. …
Grace and peace be with you all.
In prison yards across the country, men and women are being introduced to the hope of Jesus Christ through one- and two-day Prison Fellowship Hope Events that feature a variety of inspirational speakers and musicians. While providing a brief respite from the challenges of prison life, each Hope Event™ gives prisoners the chance to respond to Christ and take the next step of joining a faith community behind bars.
PRISON FELLOWSHIP ACADEMY
'I HAVE CHANGED SO MUCH'
My time has been rocky, but now I have the Lord in my life, and it is going on so smooth. I have changed so much from the lifestyle that I once lived. Thanks to the Prison Fellowship Academy, I am on my way home after six years. … My family is so proud of me now thanks to a group of loving and caring men coming into prison, helping us out. I am 24. I will be able to get out and stay out so that I can enjoy my life and serve my purpose the Lord has for me.
Located in select prisons across the country, the Prison Fellowship Academy® guides incarcerated men and women through a holistic life transformation spanning weeks or months, where they are mentored by Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers to lead restored lives in prison and beyond. A cornerstone program of Prison Fellowship, the Academy leads participants to identify the life-controlling issues that led to their imprisonment and take responsibility for their impact on the community.
The Academy tackles criminal thinking and behavior, life skills, addictions, victim impact, and prosocial culture change, with the goal of developing prisoners who have leadership potential to serve as positive peer mentors and supporters of a constructive prison environment. Academy graduates who are preparing for release will have an opportunity to connect to post-release resources and support in metropolitan areas.
Thank you for being a part of our in-prison ministry, and may you have a blessed Easter.
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