Do You Know a Christian Prisoner?
Do you know a prisoner who is a Christian? If you do, you know he faces some unique challenges. All prisoners have to deal with the loss of freedom, dignity, and privacy. All prisoners have to live with hundreds of murderers, thieves, etc. All prisoners are exposed to the same corrosive environment that so easily destroy a person’s vocabulary and attitude.
While the prison environment can make life difficult for the Christian there is another source of frustration (especially if the Christian is trying to grow spiritually). The Christian prisoner who wants to serve the Lord will find his limited outreach confining and frustrating.
A prison, of course, is a mission field in-and-of itself. You are definitely surrounded by unsaved people who are in desperate need of God’s love and forgiveness. As they say, "A light shines the brightest in the darkest place." There are not too many places darker than a prison. Yet, it is natural for a growing Christian to develop a burden for the "regions beyond."
As Christians read the Bible and grow closer to God, they develop a natural burden to expand their realm of Christian influence. This burden comes from God. Acts 1:8 says, "… and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Basically, this verse is saying, "Start you Christian witness in your city, expand it to your state, expand it further to cover your whole country, and finally expand it to reach the ends of the world."
Being stuck in prison for many years can frustrate these desires. Yet, there is a way for prisoners to help reach the rest of the world without leaving the prison. Prisoners can use Prayer Evangelism described in a previous chapter.
For those who have not read the previous chapter, Prayer Evangelism is basically a unique way to pray for people all over the world. You take a magazine, like the National Geographic, and pray specifically for each person in the photographs. It’s like having a prayer list of people from all over the world. Even though you don’t know their names, God does.
Prisoners may not have a lot of money, freedom, or any of the other resources we take for granted. They do have, however, a great deal of free time. In fact, this valuable resource is something that most Christians outside the walls are lacking. This free time can be their passport to help reach the rest of the world for Christ. This free time can make their lives much more productive than many Christians outside the walls.
I have been a Correction Officer for over 18 years. Since I don’t swear, smoke, or have a sour attitude, most Christian prisoners know I am a Christian. When they initiate a conversation with me about God, I share my burden with them about Prayer Evangelism. It is fascinating watching their faces light up with excitement. In a sense, their prison doors have opened up. They see new hope and purpose. They now see that their time in prison doesn’t have to be a waste.
Prayer Evangelism has become contagious amongst these prisoners. As they are transferred from one prison to another, they share their burden for Prayer Evangelism with their new brothers. There are now dozens of prisoners across the state praying for people all over the world.
If you know a Christian who is in prison, send him a copy of this chapter and the previous chapter (Prayer Evangelism). Encourage him to take advantage of this rare opportunity. Challenge him to spend a few hours a day in Prayer Evangelism. Once he is out of prison, he’ll probably never have this surplus of free time again.
If you know of someone who works in a prison fellowship, share these chapters with them. Maybe this will light the fire in some prisoners in your area. I have tried to share this burden with different prison fellowships, but my influence is limited. This type of message needs to be shared one-on-one.
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