A lot of the inmates don’t know the lyrics to contemporary Christian songs, and some of them can’t read the words in a hymn book. “But everyone knows ‘Amazing Grace,’” says college junior Stephanie Gibbs. “And that’s when it sounds like we’re going to knock the walls down!”
Ex-Prisoners and Their Struggle to Make Decisions
When Pat Nolan got out of prison, some friends took him to lunch at a local deli. What was meant to be a simple, pleasant outing detoured into an excruciating debacle for Pat. As he recounts:
The waiter came over to take our orders.
We know that to develop into the best we can be—from sports to the arts to business to the military to academics—we must embrace discipline. Except perhaps for prodigies, there is no other way.
But when it comes to our spiritual development, discipline suddenly sounds like a dirty word.
Have you been looking for a way to gently ease your church into prison ministry? A way to involve others who might not yet be ready to volunteer inside a prison or work directly with released prisoners?
A way to give others just a taste of reaching out to prisoners that may whet their appetite for more?
Periodically Frontlines will feature a book recommended by Prison Fellowship staff as a resource for your ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. In this issue we highlight TrueFaced, written by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch.
Most of us have an assortment of masks we put on when we feel the need to hide our real selves.
In prison ministry, one issue that consistently arises is the need for accountability—helping prisoners or ex-prisoners take responsibility for their thoughts, choices, and actions. Ultimately, we want to help them bring everything into trusting submission to Christ and increasingly show evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
Tamlyn Ommert doesn’t go into detail about her childhood in Portland, Oregon. It was so long ago, and so much has changed in the four decades since. Her father then, she describes, was “very powerful, intimidating, controlling, and abusive.” He was also an alcoholic, with seemingly no qualms about supplying his underage daughter with samples from his supply.
Knowing that God has called us to prison ministry doesn’t mean it will be a constantly joyful experience. We can get tired, discouraged, stressed, even burned out if we don’t address the warning signs soon enough.
This can be especially true of people who are typically “givers”—dedicated to helping others—and who are serving a group of people with complex and often relentless needs—such as prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.
Nationwide, as many as 60 percent of ex-prisoners are unemployed one year after their release from prison. This signals pending disaster—not only for the ex-prisoners and their families, but also for the broader community.
Nationwide, as many as 60 percent of ex-prisoners are unemployed one year after their release from prison.