We have been working with incarcerated men and women since 1960. Building a prison ministry is a challenge, but it is much needed. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a prisoner say to me, “My life is over; nothing matters anymore.” This is especially true of black men and women in prison.
As we said yesterday, one of the heroes of prison ministries is a man named Buck Griffith. He has been responsible for the conversion of literally thousands of prisoners. Not only has Buck done one-on-one work in the prisons, but he also started a program to help people with drug problems. The program called NewLife Behavior Ministries features Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA) and provides psychological help and support for prisoners.
There is a desperate need for Christians to get involved in helping families and individuals whose lives have been upended. To help individuals and churches in building a prison ministry, Buck has released a book titled Loosed and Forgiven. This 158-page book has 12 chapters. The titles of the chapters tell you about its content: Chapter 1 – Getting Started Chapter 2 – A Planned Approach Chapter 3 – A Few Things About Crime Chapter 4 – Materials and Tools Chapter 5 – Wardens and Chaplains Chapter 6 – Ministering to Females (1) Chapter 7 – Ministering to females (2) Chapter 8 – Addiction Recovery Chapter 12 – Funding the Ministry Chapter 9 – Follow Up on Those Released Chapter 10 – Sex Offenders Chapter 11 – Writing to Prisoners
Prison ministry can be frustrating, and you should not underestimate Satan’s influence. When Satan has had his way with a man or woman, helping that person change life-course is an incredibly rewarding ministry. Buck Griffith has opened the door to building a prison ministry with this book. Congregations or individuals who want to help meet a great need can use it as a guide to get involved.
The New Life Behavior Ministry website is: nlbm.org
For over 50 years, this ministry has been working in prisons throughout the United States. Prison ministries fill a vital need. Our prison ministry began in the 1960s when I first became a Christian. I went back to share my new-found faith with atheists and skeptics that I had known in my atheist days. I found that a disproportionate number of my old atheist cronies were in prison for one thing or another. As we corresponded, they told me that a large number of their fellow inmates had faith questions.
We wrote our first correspondence course with the goal of helping prisoners regain their faith and start on a road to newness. Humans can justify almost any behavior if they don’t have a functional moral standard to guide their decisions. If they have no faith in the teachings of the Bible, then “survival of the fittest” becomes their standard. Prison ministries fill a vital need.
A control struggle goes on in prisons everywhere, with gangs in almost every prison. Continued dependence on drugs is what has overfilled our penal system. We design our courses to show any open-minded reader that there is a God and that the Bible is His Word. We want to show them that they can depend on Jesus Christ to help them overcome drugs, gangs, and life in the prison system.
We have a very small effort with just over 4,000 students taking our courses, but we are blessed to have a relationship with the Kings Crossing Prison Ministry in Corpus Christi, Texas. Buck Giffith oversees the massive program of Kings Crossing, which has programs to help prisoners overcome drugs. They have basic courses to help prisoners renew their faith, and they visit prisoners in many states.
Prisoners frequently request to be baptized to wash away their past with the sins that got them into prison so they can begin a new life. There are now 410 permanent or portable baptistries in prisons in 37 states and 39 foreign nations. This has resulted in over 15,000 baptisms annually. As prisoners begin their new life, they are put into study programs and receive remedial help as it is needed.
It is one thing to bemoan the fact that the United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated. It is another thing to do something about it through prison ministries. You can find more about the Kings Crossing program and how to contact them on their website: kingscrossingprisonministries.org
Yesterday we discussed an article by atheist Michael Shermer in which he stated that as atheism replaces belief in God “we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.” (Scientific American, April 2018, page 77). At the same time Shermer’s article came out, we received a report on prison suicide rates.
NewLife Behavior Ministries issued a report of an increase in suicides in Texas prisons. The data came from the University of Texas Medical Branch saying that attempted suicides in Texas prisons jumped from 65 to 150 in the past four years. Statistics on suicides are very complicated, but every study we have seen has shown a huge increase in attempted suicides. The increase applies to all segments of the population, not just prison suicide rates but the general public as well.
The secular sources for morals and values that Shermer recommends would include people like atheists Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins. They advocate euthanasia for the “unfit” in society including Down Syndrome, mentally ill, and mentally deficient people. Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He advocates for infanticide to eliminate defective children and for animal rights. In his book Practical Ethics, he concedes that the question of why we should act morally “cannot be given an answer that will provide everyone with overwhelming reasons for acting morally.”