As Christians, we often think of fellowship as something that happens at our church, or our small group meetings, or perhaps at Bible study classes. Many Christians go a step further, and volunteer to help brother and sister Christians through a church group or an organization that sees a need and works hard to make a difference. Food banks, drug rehabilitation, suicide hot lines, medical clinics, and a wide variety of support groups have a great impact in our world, and are often tools that bring souls to Christ. Churches and congregations across America support society in so many ways, yet often they fail to remember the society of Christians that we don’t see in our daily lives. They live isolated from society in a separate world–a separate Christian “ghetto” that has become their daily reality.
These are not the prison gang members often portrayed on TV shows, who take joy in their evil doings and think God is a joke or a crutch for weaklings who don’t know any better. No, these are men and women who love Jesus, as the rest of us do, who have made mistakes–as we all have–who are sinners–as we are. They go to Christian churches behind bars, they attend bible study groups, they have prayer meetings and prayer vigil groups, and they support each other with the help of their chaplains. Their letters share their love of their families–wives, husbands, children, aunts, uncles, parents–and they live in desolate conditions below the poverty level of any third world country.
These are the modern “lepers” of our times. Shunned by society–yet some of the very people that Christ chose to help during His time on Earth. Christ came for all of us, including the downtrodden, the poorest, and yes, the prisoners, as is often mentioned in the Bible. He was criticized for having fellowship and visiting with “the sinners”, for showing compassion, and even for forgiving their sins. But as our example, He showed us that He loves us all… and instructed us that the greatest commandment of all was to love Him and love our neighbors for the love of God.
My experience with prison ministry has brought my wife and I and our ministry volunteers so much joy! Our website: www.PrisonMinistry.com is now in it’s sixth year, and we have enjoyed the letter writing fellowship of so many Christians hungry to connect with fellow Christians in the name of Jesus. We now have inmate members, both men and women, in 17 State Correctional Institutes (SCI’s) across Pennsylvania, and are looking forward to serving as many as God puts in our path.
Often the inmates are far more knowledgeable about the bible than those of us on the outside of their walls. We send them birthday cards and Christmas cards, and our letters share our hearts and our faith with them–and surprisingly, they encourage us and strengthen us! Best of all, we get to witness the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in their lives–which transforms us! It has been a joyful journey–one that everyone can take to enjoy Christian fellowship that is truly meaningful. It’s easy! Just look into your heart; you may find that your relationship with Christ would benefit from an injection of real Christian love that comes from this rewarding Kingdom work. Just an hour or two a month is all it takes to share God’s love and your life with a Christian inmate.
You may not know where or how to start, or perhaps your church doesn’t have a prison ministry. No problem! You can join us in supporting our fellow Christians through our letter writing and sending birthday cards, etc. We will be happy to email a starter kit including a quick guide to anyone who sends me an email at Rick@PrisonMentoring.com. I will also answer your emails and any questions to get you started or to support you along the way. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!
In HIS Name,
Rick DiLaurenzo, Founder and Director
Box 310, Hilltown, PA 18927