The Church's Attitude Toward Returning Citizens

The psychological effects of incarceration are impregnated with stress, disappointment, depression, hopelessness, and oppression. Scars from their journey through the concrete jungles, in the wilderness of corrections, is a non-erasable experience. Although the experience is non-erasable, the returning citizen’s past is not his/her destiny, nor does their predicament abort their potential to have a new life in Christ. The process of reintegration is not an easy journey to travel without assistant from compassionate, concerned individuals who believe in giving a returning citizen another chance to succeed in this saga called life.

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Six Rules of Thumb for Prison Ministry

Some years back, a group of individuals from a church decided to form a prison ministry team. With heartfelt good intentions, they created a list of the members’ skills and ran it by their pastor. Next, they took it to a chaplain at the nearby prison where they were hoping to serve. The list focused on the special gifts they could contribute to inmate well-being, such as Bible study, exercises, arts and crafts related to the studies, and so on. In addition, this group offered to donate crosses, religious books, Bibles, workbooks on how to read the Bible, and handouts for inmates to color or decorate.

What is wrong with this picture? This type of planning might work well for a ministry within a congregation, but when approaching a prison – or other institution, for that matter – leaders must first find out what is actually needed.

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