I know that many of you reading this have a loved one that’s incarcerated or know someone that does. When I began my time all those years ago I remember how cold and impersonal incarceration felt. There were days when I struggled to carry on, and there were times when my family struggled coping with my situation. There’s worry, concern and fear, and I think most families want to help their incarcerated loved one in some way but are unsure how.
There’s a universe of nonprofit organizations doing ministry work for prisoners. These organizations play an important role in their lives, for they bring hope, peace and warmth into an otherwise cold and uncaring place. As a prisoner our connection with the outside world means everything, but many prisoners don’t have this. I know men and women who never receive mail, nor financial support, nor visits and have no one to call. I can’t begin to tell you how hard life is while incarcerated when you don’t have this. I have been there and experienced this for myself.
I think most of you reading this believe in God in one form or another. Faith based organizations are very active in our prisons and jails, and for prisoners this is what many need. Through these organizations prisoners find hope, guidance and belief in self and the future.
If you have a loved one that’s struggling to cope, struggling to carry on in their new environment, there’s a lot you can do to help. In my recent post “A Life Sentence Isn’t The End” I talked about ways you can help. However, steering your loved one toward one of these faith based organizations is one of the best things you can do.
These three organizations serve tens of thousands of inmates around the world by providing free Bible studies and related materials:
1) Emmaus Correspondence School, P.O. Box 1028, Dubuque, Iowa 52004-1028
2) Mt. Zion Bible Institute, 2603 W. Wright Street, Pensacola, FL 32505
3) Crossroads Prison Ministries, P.O. Box 900, Grand Rapids, MI 49509-0900
Materials are available upon request, and no one is turned away.
There are numerous organizations ministering through pen pal correspondence. The simple act of communicating and letting prisoners know that they are loved and not forgotten heals deeply. This with ministering the gospel changes prisoner lives. There’s nothing more positive than witnessing spiritual transformation and change. I’d like to introduce you to one of these organizations now.
Christian Pen Pal Ministries
Christian Pen Pal Ministries (CPP) is a nonprofit dedicated to helping prisoners through one-on- one correspondence ministry. CPP is comprised of an all-volunteer core of free world Christians working from around the world bringing support to prisoners who are lonely and in need of companionship.
CPP is run by Jesse and Beth Michaels with assistance from volunteers. CPP began in 1998 and is an extension of a 10-year mom and pops ministry of corresponding. Many of the prisoners contacting them hail from backgrounds where their actions have cost them family connections and friends, leaving them without anyone. Some have simply lost all of their family to time and are now alone in the world, while others are early into their incarceration and seeking direction and hope.
Through their Christian Pen Pals site prisoners are matched up with Christian volunteers. Prisoners first fill out a pen pal registration form, and based on the information provided, CPP matches the prisoner with a Christian volunteer. The wait for prisoners to be matched can be lengthy due to so many prisoners in need and not enough volunteers. The need for volunteers is great. You could be the light in a prisoner’s life as a CPP volunteer.
If you’d like to become a volunteer or learn more about volunteering, contact Christian Pen Pals at: Christian Pen Pals, ATTN: Beth Michael, P.O. Box 11296, Hickory, NC 28603 or go to their web site at atcppministry.com. If you’d like to enroll your loved one into their pen pal program contact Beth at the P.O. Box or through atcppministry.com.
I think faith plays an important role, second to strong family ties, in helping prisoners cope with incarceration. I know a number of men and women who’ve served long sentences who are now free and positive contributors to their communities. Some of them are advocates while others work in mentoring roles with troubled youth. However, all of them have one thing in common: they found direction through faith while incarcerated.
We believe that rehabilitation, not endless incarceration, is the solution to breaking the cycle of crime. Awareness comes one post at a time, one voice at a time.
Discover more letters from this blog in the book titled “Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal” By Christopher Monihan. Available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.
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