About 3 million people are incarcerated across the U.S. Many of these prisoners are broken hearted, and learned to hate because they never experienced love and goodness. Very many of these people come from very dysfunctional, abusive families and are illiterate.
As prison ministers, we try to help the imprisoned break through the only cycle they know, to give them a deeper God centered view of life, to see life in its truest sense. There is compassion; I find prisoners so grateful for anything we can do for them. It is very rewarding.
Yes, they have hurt others and have ruined lives. Prisoners have made bad choices, and they suffer greatly from what they have done. Please understand this: God knows each one of them and asks us to help them, to be responsible citizens and good role models for their families, and work at turning others around.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta opened a home for AIDS patients in the U.S. because a prisoner, who was dying of this disease, personally asked her to help him die with dignity. He became the first prisoner turned over to Mother Teresa’s custody. People in prison feel rejected. Mother Teresa said, “See Jesus in the disguise of the poor,” the prisoner, because he really is there.
Many times I feel God’s love for them pouring out of me. Jeff Cavins said, “Love people, and they will change.” They need us to believe in them. No one is so bad that you can’t teach them. There are many, many people in prison we can’t reach out to. I’m asking parishes all over the world to form prayer meetings once a month to pray for the healing and salvation of prisoners. God loves all his children, and as Jeff Cavins tells us, God’s kind of love is agape love, unconditional love, full sacrificing love. Even one prisoner is worth saving. Please never forget the forgotten on death row.
I’ve found that Jeff and Emily Cavins’ Walking Toward Eternity series is a great way to make God’s love for prisoners known to them. I’ve seen miraculous changes in their lives due to their involvement in this program and from teaching them about the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina. God reaches deep into their lives, and they know God loves them.
What Can You Do?
If you are looking to get involved in prison ministry, call the prison in your area to find out how you can help. If the prison does not have a religious freedom act, there may be a way you can introduce it. Get Involved:
1.) Visit inmates
2.) Go out and teach
3.) Donate books or CDs
4.) Show inspirational movies
5.) Get involved with Reaching Out from Within (rofw.org)