by Christy Hoagland
“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:36
This year we are on pace to hold over 180 services/events in prisons all across Missouri. I imagine people wonder why we do so many services and why we go to so many institutions, after all there are lots of volunteers that make a lot of visits and hold a lot of services at the majority of prisons around the state.
What makes us different?
From my observation, most ministries have the same team at one institution which is not a bad thing, in fact, it’s a good thing. These men and women need people consistently coming in to minister to them. We encourage offenders to go to all the Christian services they can, it helps them grow in their faith and their walk with the Lord. We have regular services in two prisons every week and it is a great time of discipleship and fellowship with the offenders.
How are we different?
We have the privilege and capability to minister in many institutions, along with our two weekly services, we hold three monthly services, six quarterly services, bi-annual prison concerts and more. And since we have the ability to minister in so many places, we see a lot of offenders. Since we see so many offenders, they know us, they remember something we said, a song sung, a testimony given, a prayer prayed over them. Some men and women may never get a visit from anyone on the outside and maybe never even receive a letter. A lot of offenders have strained relationships or no relationship with family or anyone else from outside the razor wire and we may be their only friend(s). And since we have a connection with them and they know who we are, when a man is transferred to another institution, which happens quite frequently, they come to our service and see a familiar face. These visits are important to them, they feel like someone cares about them enough to come and share their time with them. And because they already know us, it makes it more special.
Why are we different?
God has called us to more and more institutions and we are beyond blessed to be able to do what we do. He gives us the strength, the means, the ability to travel and share the Gospel with the incarcerated and we are thankful. He has given us more ministry partners and wonderful guests that accompany us inside prison walls. And God has also provided for us through the many people and churches who support us and because of our supporters faithful giving, they are coming along with us to visit those in prison. Thank you for answering the call to remember those in prison.
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3