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HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PRISON VOLUNTEER WORKER Why get Involved Why should Christians be involved in prison ministry?

Without solid answers to this questions, you are ill-equipped to face the harsh realities of prison life. You might even give up and quit when the ministry turns out to be tougher than you expected. There are several sound reasons why you should be involved in a volunteer Christian ministry behind prison walls. Because Jesus Commands Us to Go First and most important, we go into prison because Jesus specifically commands us to go (Matthew 25: 31-46). In this passage, Jesus commends the righteous for feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked and visiting those in prison. Then he declares, “Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me!” Jesus demands this ministry of us to seek God’s will. Another New Testament passage, Hebrews 13:3, commands Christians with equal force to “Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them”. During New Testament days, Christians were often imprisoned by the Roman authorities. Their fellowship members came to aid, both spiritually and materially. Today many prisoners have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord during their confinement. We have a parallel obligation to encourage these brothers and sisters in the faith through personal visits and other forms of ministry. Our guidance and counsel can help them grow in faith. Because of the Example of Jesus The example of Jesus should also inspire us to get involved in a prison ministry. Born in a stable to peasant parents, he spent most of is life among society’s outcast and downcast. He was criticized for eating with sinners and healing helpless people on the Sabbath. Because of our Sin and God’s Grace We ought to enter prison deeply aware of how little we deserve the many good things God has given us. Prisoners are the forgotten and lost of our society. People basically neglect the prisons. Most don’t even want to think about prisons. And yet, the prison population continues to grow. No wonder we have an enormous crime problem. We believe it is our Christian responsibility to bear one another’s burdens. Loving one another as Christ first loved us means caring for suffering and poor humanity just as Jesus did. We must go in. We enter prison because so much evangelism today is viewed as pious hymn singing, hand clapping, frozen plastic smiles. Christians who bear the love of Christ can make a difference when we live out our faith. Motivation Wrong Reasons Some volunteers join the ministry for the wrong reasons; lets take a look at some of those reasons. Because of guilt and sympathy; they believe the prison system is all-wrong and the poor inmates are suffering unjustly at the hands of a harsh society. They have quick and easy answers for all the things that are wrong in the inmates and the system. Inmates not eager to receive the good news; they find out that inmates don’t come running to receive their message of repentance and reform. Unable to make rapid progress in changing things, they tend to become easily discouraged and drop out. Romantic fascination with crime and criminals; they brag about personal friends of notorious criminals behind bars. Novelty soon wears off and they lose interest. Scalp hunting: Scalp hunters enter prison solely to converts as many inmates as quickly

They need a concerned. Although inmates may let down and disappoint you they expect you to be faithful. two other qualities of a good volunteer are openness and teach-ability. An active listener seeks out the feeling and meaning behind sometimes and angry words. You must not allow your relationship to end in another failure or rejection. This is what good listening is all about. If this is what God wants you to do. printed materials and all the people around the environment. Right Reasons First. This is a requirement for an effective Christian prison ministry. you are sitting yourself up for disillusionment and disappointment. The prison isn’t the place for preaching specialist or sectarian Christian doctrines that can cause fellowship problems. God will give you the strength to face the setbacks and disappointments that are sure to come. just to get you to leave them alone. It either turns them completely cold or they’ll accept the approach convincingly but falsely. The Ability to Listen Many volunteer worry needlessly about what to say to inmates on their first visit. They have been bruised and disappointed many times. You are there to share the Good News. You simply hear the inmate’s full story and let him/her know you heard it. Your purpose will be by loving words and actions to point them to Jesus Christ. Listening seems to be such a simple thing. Most inmates resent a pushy. Remember that inmates develop a thick veneer of distrust to survive in prison. This means you are open to learn from you and other’s experiences. by all means. If an inmate should express anger or hatred. Consistency and Dependability Following through your promises is a cardinal rule for prison volunteers. not out of curiosity even to “win souls” but because Christ commands us to go. If you go with any other motivation. keep your promise. a deep conviction that God is sending you there for Christian service. but active listening is a rare skill. who is the author and perfector of authentic love. What is more important is to be able to listen. even among experienced volunteers. If you promise a prisoner you’ll do something. you don’t evaluate or judge and give quick pat answers. We go in to prison not to justify ourselves or our church. The other right reason for joining this ministry is out of love for inmates people numbered among the worlds forgotten. highly evangelistic approach. Openness and Teach-ability Beyond calling and love. Trust builds slowly. you should not be intimidated by such encounters but be ready to respond in clear terms. consistent and dependable. supportive friend who will sit with them and listen as they talk and think out possible to add more “scalps” to their soul-winner’s belt. Keep this attitude and it is only a matter of time before you become an excellent volunteer. nor our civic duty. (Adapted by Prison Fellowship International-Pilipinas) . Inmates usually don’t need someone to talk to them as much as they need someone to listen. As you listen. Total Acceptance of the Inmate The need for a well grounded faith Inmates will sometimes ask tough theological questions. you are well ahead of the game. don’t shut him or her off by passing judgment on his or her words. If you realize you don’t know everything about prison ministry but are willing to learn.