I have been engaged in prison ministry for almost 12 years. Prior to this I had been involved in pastoring, radio ministry, teaching in conferences, Bible colleges, and numerous nations. Why do I now give a large portion of my time ministering to those incarcerated? Besides from the fact that I view it as God’s call for me at this stage in my life, I do it because I find great joy in seeing men “released” from their “prisons.” The “prisons” I am referring to are not those of concrete and steel, but very real prisons nevertheless. Jesus said that a central part of His mission was “to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18). The bondage of sin and addiction builds a prison stronger than those with bars. If we are honest with ourselves, as human beings, we can all relate to those behind the razor wire. We have experienced the consequences of our own decisions, we have been captive of our own passions, and some of us have dealt with addictions of one kind or another. Such is the human condition.
I believe that the “good news” of Christ and His Kingdom is able to set free men and women and transform them into “new creations in Christ.” I have been able to witness the transforming work of the gospel time and time again. I have seen God dramatically change men who have been predators into preachers, from drug dealers to evangelists, and from a life of despair and hopelessness, to a life with meaning and purpose. This is what energizes me to return week after week, this is what causes me to sacrifice my precious time, and this is what gives me hope that God’s grace is able to deliver those that society has deemed hopeless.
Some of the men that I minister to are facing sentences of 25 or more years. How can one face the reality of serving that amount of time and not fall into the pit of depression and utter despair? But I have seen a number of these men find that God is able to redeem their sentence by giving them a mission behind the walls. They see that God has done something for them, in order that He might do something in them, so that He can do something through them.