This winter I saw a prison leader do something that almost never happens. At a Midwest prison, where men are enrolled in a Prison Fellowship seminary-level training program, the warden allowed close to 400 prisoners to gather in the gymnasium to drink coffee, have cookies, sing, hear the Gospel, and interact with 30 volunteers.
A version of the following post originally aired as a BreakPoint commentary on April 8.
Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” showed a despairing George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, learning how the world would be without him.
Many friends like you help us with Angel Tree year after year, whether it’s by praying, giving financially, wrapping a gift, or working at a Christmas party. This past Christmas, you helped us match 330,663 children with volunteers who delivered gifts, the Gospel, and personal messages from moms and dads behind bars.
It is breathtaking to see the lengths followers of Christ will go to serve Him. We got a fresh reminder of this recently in Spokane.
The word “arise” runs through Scripture like the repetitive chorus of a song.
When the people of Israel were waiting on the east side of the Jordan River, hesitating to enter the Promised Land, their leaders encouraged them, “Arise … for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good” (Judges 18:9).
My love for the Lord ignited a desire to give my time behind bars to writing in-depth exegetical papers and doing ministry unto the Lord. This is all hard work, but it is a labor of love. It is the least I can do for all He has done for me.
“To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit.” – Jonah 2:6, NIV
The wayward prophet Jonah had to go into the belly of the whale before He really understood the message of redemption God wanted him to preach in Nineveh.
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” – Matthew 26:38
Jesus’ deep sorrow in this verse takes on special significance when we see it through a prisoner’s eyes.
Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day (excluding Sundays) period of reflection and repentance preceding Easter.
For many Christians, Lent is a period of fasting—a chance to give up something they might otherwise enjoy as a reminder of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
There is a bend in the Elbow River as it winds through the Canadian Rockies. Above that bend is a cave, and in that cave I often used to sit alone. When my wife Cathy and I lived in Canada, raising two small children and pastoring a church, I would go there to think and pray, but mostly I was waiting.
With Christmas just a few weeks away, thousands of Angel Tree children are still unassigned. This means that boys and girls in your own community may not get to unwrap a gift from their mom or dad in prison and hear the Good News of our Savior. Will you help share the joy of God's greatest gift to us this season?
God can use any church of any size to serve children with incarcerated parents.
I lost a good friend this week. He was killed in a tragic roadside accident, leaving behind his wife and three daughters. I was with his family at the hospital as they said their final good-byes and went home without him.
I just got a letter from Lauren, a woman in Oregon who is finishing her prison sentence and finding great joy as she participating in Prison Fellowship® programs. Thanks to her relationships with Prison Fellowship volunteers, she’s better prepared to go back to her community as a follower of Jesus.
In the aftermath of any senseless act of violence, we cry out, “Why?” We feel more vulnerable in the communities we live in. We reach out for solutions that would prevent something similar from happening in the future. But most often, we are left without any real answers.