You may wonder why we are in ministry for prisoners. I would ask in reply to think about what God requires of us.
Consider the following from Hebrews 13:
3 Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place.
And this from Micah 6:
8 “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
David Haas interprets that call this way:
1. Come! live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!
We are called to be light for the kingdom,
to live in the freedom of the city of God!
Refrain: We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.
2. Come! Open your heart!
Show your mercy to all those in fear!
We are called to be hope for the hopeless,
so all hatred and blindness will be no more!
Nice sentiments. This song was actually kind of a “theme song” for our intentional faith community back in Massachusetts. There in Massachusetts I got involved in ministering to those in prisons. It was intimidating at first — but oh so rewarding ultimately. I felt inadequate to bring God’s message into this setting.
I would suggest that God wants us to be active members of the kingdom. The Prison Ministry was an excellent way to put my faith and Sunday morning lessons into action. In Massachusetts, we went into Norfolk Prison — running a short course on Christianity for prisoners who were interested. It was a 3-day course and monthly meetings afterwards. We touched many of the prisoners. Equally important, I was touched in a very rewarding way by the experience.
Matthew 25 says:
35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
I think that we are called to act and to act in a particular way. God expects something more of us than a token Sunday morning visit. Think of the Good Samaritan. For me — and maybe for you — the Prison Ministry provides an opportunity — a pathway — to be the person God wants us to be. Yes … US. Nobody gets a “bye” on this.
We are in the discernment phase; we don’t know exactly “what” our ministry will be called to be. But, we’d love to have you be a part of the discernment of our purpose and nature. You could influence the direction we take.
That said, we seem to be leaning toward working with post-incarceration, released prisoners — helping them find their way back into society as productive citizens.
Also, possibly we may be able to help families of prisoners serving short sentences. (“Short to the courts; catastrophic [often] to the families.)
We continue to collect books to forward to Read Between the Bars; there is opportunity to transport, sort, and package books collected.
We are also called to minister to our own St. Philips community through forums and presentations. We are going to present a film entitled Herman’s House and discussion.
All these things require time, effort, and energy. Are there rewards for doing God’s work? You’d better believe it!!
Join us? Watch the bulletin for dates, times, and places.
And … thank you for the many books you have donated. As of this writing, 22 dozen have been collected and delivered.
For more information about St. Philip’s prison ministry feel free to contact me.