COVID-19 may have closed America's prisons, but it can't shut out the hope of the Jesus.
Spring reminds me of this verse from Isaiah: "I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Indeed, amid all that's happening around us during this pandemic, God is making a way for Prison Fellowship®.
Easter Hope Events are an annual tradition for Prison Fellowship. Chuck and Patty Colson regularly celebrated our Lord's resurrection with incarcerated men and women. And Prison Fellowship has continued that tradition every year. That's why we were heartbroken when prisons had to close because of the coronavirus.
Although COVID-19 may have closed the doors of America's prisons, it couldn't shut out the hope of the Gospel. God made a way for us to bring a Hope Event™ into prison—virtually! We partnered with several departments of corrections to broadcast a recorded Easter celebration inside prisons via closed-circuit television! This celebration included music performances, testimonies, and a beautiful altar call.
GOD CONTINUES TO OPEN DOORS
Easter isn't the only way God has enabled us to bring the hope of Jesus into prisons despite these unprecedented times.
A new Prison Fellowship offering that will make positive inspirational and educational content available to prisons across the country is Floodlight™. Most in-prison programming remains canceled, and prisoners increasingly are required to remain in their cells. Because of this, Prison Fellowship has developed, with top Christian content providers—including Alpha, Celebrate Recovery, and others—this new platform that allows corrections staff to download a variety of Christian content to share on prison televisions and devices (where available).
Last year, we created our online outlet, The Storehouse, to provide free Bibles, devotionals, and other materials for distribution to incarcerated men and women.
We notified chaplains last week that we had restocked the Storehouse with new books, copies of our Inside Journal newspaper, and other offerings. Within 48 hours after we sent that email, chaplains had placed over 100 orders and requested more than 5,000 Bibles—with one California prison alone requesting 1,000 Bibles for its prisoners! The Word of God is alive and well, and it is flooding into prisons across the country!
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Our advocacy team continues in earnest to advocate on behalf of those who are incarcerated. I posted an open letter to policy makers urging them to address the public health threat to the most vulnerable among us, including the men and women in prison and those who work in corrections.
We continue our outreach to federal and state legislators, encouraging them to include support for the incarcerated population in relief packages and asking them to remember those in prison by taking steps for their protection and care.
BRINGING HOPE TO PRISONERS
We are so encouraged that God is revealing new and innovative ways to bring the Good News to prisoners! Truly, nothing is too hard for God!
We have two ways that you can be involved, too:
GIVE: Your generous gift helps us keep this ministry going and allows us the ability to respond to the needs of prisoners across the nation.
PRAY: Our prayer team continues to lift up the prisoners, families, and communities we serve. To join us, check out our guide for who you can interceded during this crisis. And if you are personally affected by COVID-19, please let us know how we can pray with and for you.
We're praying unceasingly, trusting our Father who says, "Call to me, and I will answer."
James J. Ackerman
President and CEO, Prison Fellowship
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