Tidbits To Remember About Prison Ministry
Notes taken at Last Stop Ministries’ Prison Ministry meeting on
December 3, 1998.
Speaker: Mark Trahan, Twice Set Free Ministries.
1. You may not see much fruit from the prison ministry, but if there is no one like you sowing the seed there will never be any fruit harvested at all!
2. You had better be sincere in your motives and sure of your calling when going to minister at the prison or jail. If you don’t those inmates will eat you alive! They know a fake when they see one; a “Con” knows a “Con.” God needs warriors, not whiners!
3. Be true! One wrong statement or one ounce of insincerity and they will catch it! Don’t think for a second that you are dealing with uneducated people. Contrary to popular belief, inmates are some of the most intelligent individuals on earth.
4. Make it real for them. Don’t just preach it, live it! Let them feel God’s love through your life. Let them see it in your walk and in your speech. Only a man who lives what he preaches will do what it takes to reach the lost and illustrate the message, making it applicable and understandable. Make it real!
5. Tell them of the unconditional love of Jesus, and let them see this love illustrated by your life.
Let them know that they can invite Christ into their lives without Him requiring any initial changes on their part. Once Christ comes into their lives He will change everything!
6. Most inmates have never experienced true peace; the peace that only Jesus can give them.
Peace to them is having a pocket of money and being in right standing with peers. They need to know and experience the peace that passes all understanding. Mark said that, as a sinner and outlaw, “As long as I was on top I had nothing to fear.” Most people today have this mentality.
They only recognize that they need God when they are in a situation they cannot control. Help them to recognize the universal need for God. Even the creation itself could not consist except Jesus allows it and continually breathes life into it. Most people run from God because they do not know Him. People fear the unknown. Introduce them to Jesus!
7. Don’t be easily discouraged, even with those who seem to be unreachable and resist your efforts. The seed (Word) that your sow
(preach) doesn’t have much trouble getting into the ground (man). Even when the seed is sown into stony ground; it can get in, but it has trouble sprouting out! That’s why it takes longer for some people to get their “breakthrough.”
8. Convicts who try to live for God receive criticism from other inmates. They use pride as their weapon. They say things like, “You weren’t living for the Lord on the streets, so don’t start getting jailhouse religion in here,” or, “Are you a man or a mouse? Religion is for cowards and for the weak!” These are lies from the devil! He uses these unbelievers to destroy the prospect or new convert by attacking his manhood.
They need to know that Jesus is no weakling, He’s the Mighty God and Everlasting Father! (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6) Help them to know that they can live for God in jail, and that if they can live for Him there they can live for Him anywhere; especially in the outside world.
9. Another important point that is vital to your ministry is that once you get the sinner converted, they obey the Gospel and are Born-again, you must follow-up on them and feed these newborns!
A newborn baby needs attention, affection, cleaning and feeding because they can’t do it themselves yet. The same principle goes for our new-converts. They need your fellowship, your love and affection. They need you to put up with their dirty diapers and help them to get “cleaned up.” They can’t feed themselves, that’s your job. As newborn Christians their lives are new, but their minds are still full of the world.
That’s why they need their minds renewed. You must disciple them. Jesus told us to go preach and make disciples. We cannot preach only, but must also disciple!
( NOTE: From henceforth are notes from suggestions from other prison ministers which I received via e-mail. )
10. Be assured that progress is being made, though it may seem that you not making a difference in anyone’s life. Sometimes you will be reaching those who are not in your congregation, but those who are listening from their bunks contemplating the Word of God as it is being preached.
11. Remember that it is the anointing of God upon the preaching of the Word that will reach the lost, and once the Word goes in it never comes out and it never dies. God said that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word will abide forever.
12. Pray and ask for God’s anointing and direction for the service. God will give you the messages He knows they need to hear. Have faith in Him and He’ll do the work.
13. Simply going to the jail and talking to inmates has proved to be unfruitful. You can make contacts and friends this way, but no one gets saved through talking. Remember your purpose for going to the jail! You can go for visitation another time.
14. Consistency is essential. The inmates look forward to seeing you and respond best to a schedule. If you can go to the jail at the same day and time every week for service the inmates will start looking forward to seeing you there and will expect you at the appointed time.
15. The United Pentecostal Church International has a few programs for inmates to get involved in, such as the Christian Prisoner Fellowship. The C.P.F. may still have a program in existence that enables inmates to write for Bible studies to be sent to them at
no cost. You can also become a C.P.F. Chaplain; call Headquarters at (314) 837-7300 for details. There is also a U.P.C.I. chemical rehabilitation program called A.C.T.S. It has been approved in many states and acknowledged as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.
16. Know the prison or jail rules at the facility in which you are ministering. Breaking the rules or the law, regardless of your ignorance of them, could result in prosecution and/or revocation of your ministerial status. Never give the inmates anything that is not first approved by the administration.
17. Make yourself available for any work that’s needed. Don’t just center on Bible studies and classes. Is there anything that you can do to help the prison administration? Could you teach a reading class for the illiterate? How about a class that will help inmates find a job once released?
18. Inmates love having things that they can send home to family; such as birthday or Christmas cards. Many do not have any money to purchase stamps stationary. Perhaps you could purchase these items for them. Have a book drive to add to their library, if they have one. You could also put up an angel tree with their children’s names, needs and wish list on it. People could sponsor a child to buy gifts for around Christmas. Many people don’t think about the inmate’s family.
While the inmate is incarcerated his family has to go to work to pay the bills. Many times they are neglected and lack even the basic necessities.
19. Let God direct you in this ministry so that His time and His finances can be best spent, and that you won’t be taken advantage of in the process. Although the church is to reach out to the lost and help the poor, we need to help the ones who really need the help. Many will take advantage of you. Don’t give out money or put money into the inmate’s account; it isn’t allowed at most jails anyway. If you know the rules you can say, “That’s not allowed,” or in such a way that doesn’t make you seem to be calloused or unconcerned about their needs.
20. Inmates love music; especially the men. Most men believe that singing is “sissy stuff.” They don’t realize that it is ok to sing to the Lord, and therefore they conceal their desire to sing. Perhaps organizing a caroling group around Christmas time would be a great means of outreach and creating an atmosphere of worship for them to express themselves to God in song.
Last Stop Ministries is the official outreach ministry of the Jesus Worship Center, a United Pentecostal Church located at 414 Curtis St., Jennings, La., and is presently being pastored by the Rev. Clifton J. LeJeune.
This manual was compiled and printed by Joshua Olmsted on December 6, 1998. Copyright 1998- Joshua Olmsted.