Sunday, December 25, 2011

To Whom Do You Surrender?

Do you ever get overwhelmed with your own desire for change?  You want to be like Christ…but that desire seems almost like a ‘pipe-dream.’  Something that vaguely stirs you to change, but seems so far from an attainable reality that you lose hope?  If so, believe me, my friend, you are not alone.  The great Apostle Paul may have felt that way when he penned, “I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 5: 15 NLT

Some people believe that Paul was struggling with some ‘great sin’ that threatened to overpower him.  I believe every sin is a ‘great sin’ when it has power over us.  If we don’t conquer it—it will conquer us.  How do we conquer the sin that wars against our better self? How do we realize the dream of becoming Christ-like?  The Apostle Paul verbalizes his own struggle to rise above his sinful (human) nature and take on the nature of his Lord in the following verses and gives us his conclusion in Chapter 8 Verse 5,

 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” In verse 6 Paul informs us of his conclusion in the matter, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  

That is the crux of the matter my friends.  In the secret chambers of our heart there is a battle raging. Our desire to be like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is at war with our desire to control our own destiny.  William Ernest Henley penned it well in his famous work,  Invictus “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Unfortunately, Henley died at the age of 53 and one would hope he surrendered control to a higher power, the Creator of the Universe, before his untimely death.

The question we must ask today is this: to whom do I surrender control?  If we surrender to addictions, this world’s system of thought which is contrary to the known will of God, our own desires to gratify our sinful nature (as Paul said), then those are the powers that will control us.  If we surrender to the Holy Spirit and yield control of our lives to him, we will experience life and peace.

Someone once said, “Jesus said it.  I believe it. And that settles it.”  A simple philosophy that may become a guiding light to us if we internalize it and purpose to live by it.

To whom to you surrender?  I pray that you surrender your mind, will, and emotions to the control of the Holy Spirit and begin living a life of peace in Him today!

Linda Settles

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Divine Week

True stories straight from prison-

Merriam Webster’s College Dictionary defines “divine” two ways:  “of, or proceeding from God;” and “to discover by intuition or insight.”  This past week both those definitions came to mind as I watched and lived through another week of prison.
It all started typically enough.  I was at a visit last Saturday when a young guy from the college building asked to introduce me to his folks.  He goes by the name “Divine”.  He is an extremely lean, muscular black man, just 23, soft spoken and very polite.  He always calls me sir as in “sir, would you have time to read my essay?”  I like him (but, my friends in here will tell you I like most everyone).
Divine is a very bright kid and he writes beautifully.  He’s one of the young guys I really enjoy helping.  So, we completed count in the “VI” room and Divine said “sir, I’d like to introduce you to my folks.”  I’ve had that happen a couple of dozen times in my stay here.  That, or guys I work with in school will introduce themselves to my folks or friends at visit.  We walk over and there is this older, well-dressed black couple sitting at a small table (dad in a suit; mom in a dress; late 60’s).  Divine introduced me to them and said “this is the man who’s taught me to write.”  His mother and father hop up and shake my hand.  His mom tells me they’ve known their son was blessed when he got here.  A devoutly religious couple, she added “we prayed he’d meet someone who would befriend him and urge him to be his best.  He’s told us how you work with the young men.  Thank you.”

I was speechless.  All that afternoon I thought here I am a felon, an inmate and somehow I made a difference in this kid’s life.  All the prayers I’d uttered about giving me a chance and I realized I was, in fact, living my chance.  I made a difference in a kid’s life and his parents now have hope.  It was, a humbling insightful moment.
Two days later another A+ certification test was held.  Seven of nine students passed.  The two who didn’t were mere points from passing.  “Mouse”, one of the guys I spend hours with each week honing his English skills, came back from class Tuesday night with an “A” on his paper he’d written about Langston Hughes.  We spent two afternoons reading and re-reading poems and then, suddenly it clicked.  Like a light switch turning on Mouse’s face, he lit up as he got what Hughes was saying.

And then, Thursday the GED was given.  I had two guys sit for the test and those two guys passed.  I’ve been thinking a good deal about unanswered prayers.  We pray about something, it doesn’t occur immediately and we assume God’s not listening.  We forget all the times in our past when our kids were sick, or we’d lost a job, or we were on the brink of divorce.  Somehow God always answered, always saw us through the difficulties we faced.
I have said “but” a great number of times these past three years.  I realized there’s no “but” in “trust in the Lord with all your heart”.  The strange thing is I think I’ve known that all along.  Faith is all about the future.  You believe because your past proves prayers are answered.  A lot of good news came out for the college guys this week and for the GED students.  It reminded me that in any situation good can come.  Remembering that was divine.

[The Author] I was an attorney suspended from law practice in Tennessee for misappropriation of client’s funds; I rebuilt my life by moving to Virginia. Disclosing my law license problems, I was hired as a claims adjuster and within 1 year promoted to in-house claims attorney by a large Virginia insurer. Four years after being hired, I began embezzling money to lavish gifts on family and friends. From 1996 through the middle of 2008, I traveled as a high roller (making first-class trips to both the Mirage in Las Vegas and the Borgata in Atlantic City); ate in the finest restaurants and had front row seats at shows with family & friends. However, this world came crashing down in August 2008, when I was confronted by the company president. Immediately confessing, I was arrested, convicted for embezzling over $2 million and indicted on six counts. I was diagnosed with manic impulse control disorder (a form of bi-polar disorder). I pled guilty and made significant attempts to cooperate with authorities and protect my family. However, the wife I loved divorced me; my two sons withdrew from me; friends abandoned me. I was sentenced to 30 years in prison (with only 15 suspended).

Monday, December 5, 2011


In prison, Christmas day is the second happiest day of the year. New year’s day is the happiest because New Year’s signals another year gone and one nearer release and the outside world. It doesn’t really matter which month you were "sent up", another calendar year has passed. It’s gone forever.

There is an air of expectancy throughout the prison as prisoners anticipate a Christmas visit from their families. Some lay silent on their bunk-beds, trying to recall memories of childhood Christmases. Past and distant images are awakened of family and friends gathered around the table laughing and eating, then later relaxing and exchanging gifts.

The prisoner tries hard to keep his mind off the length of his sentence and the crime he committed. This is a time to receive word from home...though some messages will prove painful. A solemn air hovers over the prison. Try as he may to keep them away, dark clouds of failures, mistakes, regret and remorse over crimes committed that have separated him from freedom, bring salty raindrops in the form of tears.

Actually, the Christmas season began weeks ago with the Angel Tree program. Prisoners were asked to submit the names and addresses of their children, and what they would like to give their children for Christmas. The Angel Trees were set up in shopping malls all across America. On the branches hung little angels with the name, age, and clothing size of the prisoner’s children.

Shoppers chose an angel, purchased the requested gifts or an alternative gift, and presented it to the volunteer sitting beside the tree. Although it is suggested that the gift not exceed $15, some shoppers spent twice as much in the spirit of Christmas. A few days before Christmas the gift is delivered to the prisoner’s child in the name of the parent.

Excitement abounds as prisoners ask each other what they are requesting for their children. Beautiful Christmas cards in multi-colored envelopes begin arriving, resulting in an atmosphere not felt during any other season of the year. Prisoners tape their Christmas cards on the walls of their cells for others to see, and each day re-read the hand written messages inside.

A few days earlier, the chaplain has gone throughout the institution making sure that everyone who wanted one was given a card to send home. The chaplain then dipped into his always limited "love fund" to make sure that the hardship cases had postage for their card. Chaplain’s assistants decorated the chapel with evergreen boughs, bright banners and a live Christmas tree.

Volunteer groups begin coming in, extending best wishes and bringing refreshments and gifts consisting of fresh fruit, homemade fudge, socks and toiletry items...sometimes with a Christmas tract strategically placed.

On Christmas Eve, the prison factory closes early and visiting hours are extended. Family and friends who come to visit are the highlight of the day, but the annual Christmas Eve play, whose actors are the prisoners themselves, runs a close second. Much preparation and excitement, and much to do about nothing goes into the play, from the screening of the cast to the full dress rehearsal.

Then the holiday arrives at last. Within reason, the guards will turn their heads on some rules and regulations normally enforced, such as dress codes, shakedowns and group gatherings. Prisoners try, with some difficulty, to be nice to the guards, and guards, with the same difficulty, try being nice to the prisoners. Both prisoners and guards will breathe a sigh of relief when Christmas is over, knowing both sides have come through without any trouble or injuries.

The prison buzzer will be delayed so the prisoners can sleep late, then all will gather in the mess hall for the highlight of the day...Christmas dinner. The kitchen crew go all out to prepare what the prisoners have requested, including a mouth-watering dessert.

This is the one day of the year when family members (not friends) are allowed to enter the cafeteria to eat with their loved one. It is a time of introducing their families to their friends. Those who do not have family visitors are usually invited to sit with those who do, and sort of "adopt a family" for the day.

This is a great time of healing and bonding between prisoners. Some will, of course, pretend to be too preoccupied for such frivolity, others, sadly, will fake a headache or stomach ache and need to return to their cells.

Recreational privileges will be extended, providing it’s a nice day for gathering in the yard. Most are on good behavior because no one wants to be placed in solitary over Christmas. Friends and family fill their loved one’s prison bank account which usually has a mandatory ceiling.

Prisoners who smoke exchange cigarettes for gifts. Those who don’t smoke exchange candy bars, stamps or toiletries. These items are normally used for bartering and illegal gambling inside prison.

Prisoners present craft shop leather goods to their families and used toys that have been donated by various civic groups. The prisoners have labored over these toys, repairing, sanding, polishing, and painting them until they look like new. Some of the "like new" toys are sent back to the civic groups to be distributed among the poor in the community.

Prisoners are more spiritually sensitive during Christmas than at any other time of the year. Some "make deals" with God, hoping to manipulate a miraculous pardon on Christmas Day, or an early release next year. Sneering at other inmates or at the festivities is frowned upon. Peer pressure controls this. Even non-Christian inmates are silent so as not to disturb the holiday for the others.

This is a day when the prisoner can feel contact with the outside world. Families around the world are celebrating...he will celebrate too. Even in this confined and confused setting, he feels at one with society. He does not feel like such an such a "loser".

But some have no Christmas memories except those spent in orphanages, foster homes, reformatories, and other prisons. For them depression sets in. They will purchase some of the drugs or liquor that an unscrupulous guard has smuggled in. Others will celebrate by getting a new tattoo, or by smoking the one cigar they have kept hidden away in order to have something special for themselves on Christmas day.

Some have been locked away so long they are unable to sense joy or happiness, except in a warped fashion, that usually results in pain for someone else. So they try to get all pumped up, to act happy without really knowing how or even why they should.

This results in a lot of shallow talking and forced laughter. Some will ask the chaplain to show them the proper way to cross themselves, some will ask for a cross to wear around their neck, while others will want the chaplain to tell them where to find the Christmas story in the Bible.

Christmas seems foreign in a prison an improper balance. No one wants to be where he is...especially today. Everyone is trying to feel significant. The Muslims and the American Indian Movement will busy themselves so as not to cause a fuss with the attempted celebration.

Another chapter has been written in the prisoner’s life. Let it read:

"Today I behaved and enjoyed as best I Christmas dictates. No guards got on my case. I was not sent for counseling or to lock-up. I did not fight or curse a guard. I was not written up...did not receive any tickets or told I need to attend an attitude adjustment class.

"For one day I did not plot the demise of my enemies or relive my trial. I conducted myself according to what I once was, and what I someday hope to be...not what I am.

"I cleaned my cell and shined my shoes. I sorted through my locker to find my best prison clothes, making sure there were no tears or patches on the shirt and that my trousers were ironed. While showering, I felt a strange expectation, and wished myself a happy Christmas. Shaving took on a new excitement and upon returning to my cell I said a prayer.

"I spoke to other prisoners I have never spoken to before. I wished both guards and prisoners ‘Season’s Greetings’. I could tell some of them were eagerly anticipating a greeting from me...a break in the routine...and they wished me the same.

"I don’t understand Christianity, but I went to chapel anyway. There I saw real women, genuine smiles, wholesome love, and heard great singing. I saw beautifully colored dresses, smelled perfumed candles and touched a member of the opposite sex...if only in a handshake. People even asked me my name...not my number.

"Blind it what you will, I made peace with my inner man...if only for a day. ‘Merry Christmas’...what a great, what a great Holy Day."

On the day after Christmas when the morning buzzer sounds, the prisoner may react exactly the opposite. He might spit on a guard or curse fellow prisoners.

But not today...because today is Christmas Day in prison.

Author’s note: Prisons, like churches, are all alike - yet different. In maximum security prisons, families would never be allowed access into the cafeteria, while in some minimum security units, prisoners are encouraged to earn "points" during the year which will allow them to spend Christmas Day at home.

Joe R. Garman, President
American Rehabilitation Ministries
P.O. Box 1490, Joplin, MO 64802

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lessons from the Mountaintop, by Linda Settles

The climb is always easier when we leave the garbage at the bottom.
I learned something yesterday morning.  While taking a walk the day before I had realized that our beautiful mountain road had been marred by litter.  Coke cans.  McDonald bags. Beer cans.  So, I took a garbage bag along for my walk. Between my home and the main road (three miles-- mostly downhill) I felt quite proud of myself as I collected garbage and placed it in the bag.  All went well until I started back up the mountain. The bag of garbage, comprised mostly of empty cans and paper--a bag which had been easy to carry on the downhill walk--soon felt like a lead weight as I trudged back up the mountain. I was afraid to put it down--what if a dog or wild animal tore into the bag and scattered my garbage everywhere?
 I may have traveled a mile and a half  when I came to a rock, a boulder really. It was almost as tall as me. That was when I laid my burden down.  I placed it in the shadow of the rock were it was almost hidden from site by smaller boulders scattered around it.
I walked away feeling lighter—free to lengthen my stride.  That was when I realized that I have often done the same thing spiritually and emotionally.  I have picked up other people’s garbage.  My heart was set on blessing them and beautifying the landscape of my life.  But I soon found that my shoulders sagged and I couldn’t quite catch my breath.  Other people’s garbage slowed me down.
It is only when I leave my garbage in the shadow of the Rock—that solid, unmovable, unchangeable, Rock of my Salvation, Jesus Christ, that I have the strength to continue my climb.
My husband came by later and threw the discarded bag in the back of his big red truck.  He then drove it to the waste center.  WOW!  That is exactly what the Lord does for us.  He takes all the accumulated garbage we have picked up—that which belongs to others as well as our own—and throws it in the back of his ‘big red truck’ to be carried away.    
Let’s lay our burdens down today, my friends.  Let someone with the resources to handle it dispose of it as only He can do.

- Linda Settles

About Linda:

"I grew up in a troubled home, learned a lot of lessons, moved away, married an amazing man, created a home of my own, and raised two daughters who are now married and raising my grand children.  If that's not a enough of an accomplishment to gain some boasting rights...well...what is?
Actually, none of us can boast because we survived, and thrived...because we didn't do it on our own.  We had the help of God, support of friends, and tenacity born of affliction. 
I lost my husband of 25 years in 2010.  I stopped writing for almost a year.  And now...I'm moving on, taking charge, and standing strong.  What did I say?  Life can't get us down as long as we're looking up.
I've written 7 books, earned multiple awards, and touched some lives with insights gained through my experiences and my study.  I thank God for every good thing that has come out of this life he has given me.  I've also made some mistakes and lost my way a few times. As someone so aptly said, "God ain't finished with me yet!" "

Accomplishments: PhD in Counseling
MA in Christian Counseling
Member of American Association of Christian Counselors
2009 Silver Living Now Award: Redeeming Our Treasures
2009 Silver Finalist: Benjamin Franklin Award: Redeeming our Treasures (2 categories:Psychology and Self Help)
Award Winning Author

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dreams Deferred

This post is written by a man currently serving a fifteen year sentence at a correctional facility in Virginia. He is a lawyer, and a believer. He found the Lord in prison and now he is a mentor. This post is about one young man he is a friend to and how he helped him keep on dreaming.

I had a conversation with my bunkmate the other night that got me thinking.  I must confess I didn’t like IG very much when he moved into the bottom bunk.  He was extremely cluttered – to the point of being sloppy.  He also brought a lot of “irons in the fire” with him.  He ran a few hustles:  parlay sheets, poker games.  On more than one occasion I lost my cool with him.  On more than one occasion Big S had to tell him to “tighten up”. 

But gradually over the past six months, we’ve developed a friendship.  He’s a very bright, polite kid:  just 24, already locked up seven years.  And, when I’d snap, he’d very quietly just, well, take it.  “My mom told me to be respectful of my elders” he told me one time.  That’s something you don’t hear very often in here.
IG has changed a lot.  He’s much neater and better organized than he was (though still not up to the standards either Big S or I maintain) and he’s become a voracious reader.  Almost every afternoon we have a conversation.  He’ll read something in the paper or come across an author he’d not read before and he’ll want to discuss it.

Tim Allen
He’s a young, bright, black man trying to grow up and learn and ultimately make something of himself.  And to do that in this environment is a statement about his character.
The other night I was reading the newest issue of “Esquire” and there was a brief interview with comedian and actor Tim Allen.  IG saw me reading the piece and asked me about him.  I’m not sure why, but I read him the part where Allen refers to his first night in jail and the resulting three years he spent in California’s DOC for cocaine possession conviction.

“He went to prison?  How old was he?”  IG asked me.  I told him he was in his twenties and explained how he started honing his comic skills in prison as a means of passing time and protecting himself.  IG grew quiet.  “Larry, can I tell you something real personal?” he asked.  “Sure,” I replied.  “When I was in high school I did a couple of plays.  I wanted to be an actor.  That was my dream.  Then I got locked up.  I won’t ever be an actor.”
“Why not?” I asked.  “Why can’t you be an actor?  Why does your conviction have to define your future?  Why can’t you dream?”

Nothing is more destructive, nothing more harmful, than giving up your dreams.  I know from personal experience.  I also know a prison sentence doesn’t have to be the end.  It can be a beginning. 
One of the biggest hurdles I face dealing with the guys in this college program is overcoming their belief that no one will give them a chance as a felon.  Unfortunately, the evidence supports their view.  Virginia may lead the nation in discriminatory practices toward convicted felons after release.

And still there is hope.  For a long time I agonized over my future.  Perhaps it was the words I read in a letter from my ex:  “You’re a convicted felon.  You have a huge restitution order against you.  You have no home, no money, no future.  You’re not much of a catch.”  For more nights than I wish to recall I lay awake wondering what would become of me.  I’d be homeless, I thought, living under a highway overpass, alone, unloved, with nothing.
And then something happened.  And I remembered my dreams, dreams I put aside for years.  And, I realized, I could come back.

Guys in here think I’m a hopeless optimist.  Maybe I am.  It doesn’t mean I’m not scared or there aren’t days (and nights) that I don’t cry out “God, what will become of me?”  And a day doesn’t go by than I’m not lonely and loneliness is as bad as hopelessness.  I told IG I decided I would endure, I would persevere.  And as the words came out of my mouth I realized I was talking to IG about faith.
IG and I made a plan.  We’re writing to some colleges to get information about theatre degrees and looking for someone willing to mentor him.  I realized dreams don’t have to die.  No matter these men’s circumstances they still can follow their dreams. 

The African-American poet Langston Hughes said it best,
“What happens to a dream deferred?
does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?”

No one should have their dreams dry up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Risk of Returning to Prison: What Should We Really Focus On?

The following  blog post from Prison Fellowship volunteer, Becky Beane is so full of good information I had to share it. Often it's difficult to understand why prisoners re-offend especially when they have suffered so much from being incarcerated. Becky offers keen insight.

What makes prisoners more likely to re-offend when they get out of prison? Is it the lack of a job? Hanging around with friends from the “old neighborhood”? Low self-esteem?

Quite a bit of research has been done to identify criminogenic needs—a tongue-twister of a phrase that refers to major risk factors highly associated with criminal conduct. Researchers consistently list these major risk factors:

  • • Antisocial values and beliefs (criminal thinking)
  • • Antisocial peers
  • • Personality traits
  • • Family dysfunction
  • • Low self-control
  • • Substance abuse

Let’s look at each factor in more detail. Then we will consider how Prison Fellowship volunteers help address these needs.

Antisocial Values and Beliefs

Offenders generally exhibit certain thinking errors that affect how they interpret and process information. These errors include a sense of entitlement, self-justification, blaming others, unrealistic perceptions of reality, and taking on a “victim stance” (for example, “the system is out to get me”). They often misinterpret benign behaviors or harmless remarks as threats (“he disrespected me”). They confuse wants with needs.

Antisocial Peers

Associating primarily with friends involved in criminal behavior puts one at high risk of sharing in that behavior. Over time, the offender loses contact with “pro-social” people, and then has no social support network to help reinforce appropriate behaviors. In fact, research indicates that a person’s companions may actually be the greatest predictor of criminal behavior. However, offenders often deny the influence of others on their lives, as that would threaten their sense of autonomy. They fancy themselves as leaders, not followers.

Personality Traits

Some offenders have what could be legitimately diagnosed as an antisocial personality disorder, characterized by a “pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.” They are habitually deceitful, irresponsible, aggressive and violent, impulsive; they fail to conform to social norms and laws, show reckless disregard for others’ safety, and experience little or no remorse for their mistreatment of others. Any of these traits can steer a person toward criminal conduct.

Family Dysfunction

People first learn attitudes, values, and behaviors within the context of the family. Broken families, abusive or neglectful relationships, permissiveness, family members involved in drug or alcohol abuse or criminal activities—these and other unhealthy family factors typically contribute to individuals’ negative, harmful ways of thinking and acting.

Low Self-Control

Repeat offenders often engage in impulsive, risk-taking behavior. People with low self-control are easily persuaded by situational and environmental factors. If they lack healthy attachments (to positive friends, family, employment, etc.), there is little to constrain them from risky or criminal behavior.

Substance Abuse

The risk of criminal behavior rises with the degree of dependency on drugs and level of use. Some are true addicts; others are “dabblers,” whose use of drugs may be related more to opportunity than to compulsion. Still others are in-between.

Factors NOT Heightening the Risk of Recidivism

Equally important is being aware of the factors not included in the list of criminogenic factors—which means these factors donot generally predict a high risk of returning to crime:

  • • Low self-esteem
  • • Mental-health issues
  • • Low education status
  • • Lack of employment options

Interestingly, these are the kind of factors that many reentry programs target. Certainly any of these areas can cause a strain on a person’s life and relationships. But if programs and support networks focus only on these issues without addressing the criminogenic needs, research shows they will have little effect on recidivism. Getting a job, for example, is essential for an ex-prisoner to take care of his family and become a productive, contributing member of society. But if his antisocial, self-centered attitudes stir up conflicts with his employer and other workers, he’ll soon be kicked to the curb.

Inner Transformation

Prison Fellowship introduces prisoners to the One who can truly make them into new creations—the Lord Jesus Christ. Our programs focus on helping them gain new attitudes and values based on Christ’s life and teachings. Roman 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and this comes through consistently studying God’s Word and exploring how it applies to all of the contexts of our lives. We have found that many Christian prisoners may have a wealth of Bible knowledge but little wisdom in how to apply it. Prison Fellowship works on that with them.

Comprehensive Networks

Prison Fellowship is developing strategic networks of organizations and agencies that can effectively address clusters of criminogenic and non-criminogenic (but still important) needs. These collaborative efforts allow us to serve the whole person by identifying the range of needs and developing comprehensive plans to provide effective resources. For example, one organization in the network might provide substance-abuse treatment; another might offer reentry employment services that focus on employee attitudes as well as job contacts; churches can provide a positive social network (to replace antisocial friends) as well as spiritual nurture. One report by University of Cincinnati researchers said “programs that target at least four to six criminogenic needs can reduce recidivism by 30 percent.”


Perhaps the greatest human resource to help a returning prisoner succeed is a mature and positive mentor (or group of mentors)—a friend, coach, guide, and role model to counter the influence of antisocial peers and illicit temptations. A Florida ex-prisoner named Twain, with a history of drug addiction, leaned upon his mentors when drug cravings slammed against his resolve to stay straight. One day while driving to pick up supplies for a home repair job, a fleck of drywall on his truck seat reminded him of a rock of crack cocaine. Instantly he was on the phone to one of his mentors, who helped him resist the temptation to “go get high.”

Through their interactions, mentors help ex-prisoners develop good decision-making and problem-solving skills. Mentors also help expand ex-prisoners’ positive social network by introducing them to friends and a church family, getting them involved in more pro-social activities.
Dinner served at Hope Aglow Fellowship 

Church Family

Through its partnership with thousands of churches across the U.S., Prison Fellowship helps connect returning prisoners and their families with a caring congregation that will welcome and support them—not only through the tough transitional stage from prison to community, but also for the “long haul” of their ongoing spiritual journey. A church family provides ex-prisoners with a positive support system and opportunities for continued growth in their faith and character. Just as important, it gives ex-prisoners valued opportunities to serve others in positive ways through the ministry of the church.

Copyright © 2011 Prison Fellowship
By Becky Beane