Have You Considered Jail Ministry?
Many have argued that some prisoners are not deserving of the very compassion that they refused to exhibit to their helpless victims. These, they say, have offended society in horrific and terrifying ways and are beyond the realm of consideration. I say, who are we to oppose God? Was it not Saul of Taurus who was converted and received the gospel amidst “breathing out murderous threats” (Acts 9:1) against Christians and consenting to their deaths and imprisonment? Saul, also named Paul, said after his conversion, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15).
Prisoners need regeneration not merely rehabilitation. No amount of jails, prisons, programs, or secular justice can do what Jesus can do, which is renew hearts and minds and eternally transform lives. I have served in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Jail Bureau as a Deputy Sheriff for nearly twelve years, and I have seen nothing give more hope to the hopeless than the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The jails are filled with those needing and seeking answers for their failures and shortcomings in life. Chaplains and Christian volunteers are invaluable in offering answers to both the inmates and the jail officers for life’s tough questions. They offer no excuse for sin, but in love, they share the gospel to every soul, just as God commanded.
I consider myself and other Christian deputies’ as partners with the chaplains and churches that frequent our jails. We are all seeking to fulfill our purposes in Christ by being salt and light in the darkest of places. Ministering behind the jail walls has been inexplicably rewarding. Though I have been cursed at and spat on, frustrated and angered, and my patience has been tried on many days, it was through those fiery trials that I have learned to love some pretty unlovable people. I have seen the young and old come through the prison system, some men, some women; many drugged and drunken, suicidal and homicidal; depressed and hopeless . . . many lost.
I could pretend that I have nothing in common with those lawbreakers, but Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). God says that “all the souls are mine . . . the soul who sins shall die” (Ez. 18:4). My soul is plagued with the same sin disease as the prostitute, the drug dealer, and the murderer. Whether prison guard or prisoner, without Christ, no man shall see the Father (John 14:6).
The life changing power of the gospel is amazing. When an inmate receives the gospel message and is truly transformed, that inmate seeks to live a godly life; no longer seeking after the flesh but seeking the Kingdom. Therefore, I thank God for the steadfast service of those volunteers who seek to free people from the bondage of sin, those whom society shuns yet Jesus loves.
Day after day and year after year, they sacrifice their time by visiting our jails, cruising the cellblocks and catwalks, preaching Christ crucified and resurrected because, “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. So he forgives the sins of those who believe” (Rom 3:25); no matter the crime. I thank God for prison ministry and all those who share in the work.