Tag Archives: Ministry

Why I Write Letters To Prisoners

Many of them have found more wisdom and sense then our most esteemed leaders ever will. While they walk around completely fooled by the devil, people like Sergio are storing up treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys.

Reducing Recidivism

Educational and rehab services are badly needed. Information has to flow into the prison to the inmate. That information has to be clear and powerful enough to change adverse behavior. I write letters and grade lessons to do just that. Contact me to find out how you or someone you know can help.

Re-entry into society, or back to prison?

  • Why do so many inmates in the United States end up returning to prison after they are released? 
  • We learned of inmates who worked with prison guards to deal drugs. We heard about others who used drugs for the first time while incarcerated. Instead of getting rehab, those who came in addicted often got worse. We found inmates who used their time not to gain a trade but to learn how to more craftily commit crimes upon release.
  • Restrictions, corruption and limited educational and drug rehab services help ensure that more than 75% of prisoners return to the system within five years of release in America.
  • Candace Harp-Harlow, an inmate we met in Oklahoma’s Mabel Bassett prison, was the victim of sexual trauma — molested at age 6, raped at 13. She started self-medicating with drugs. Soon, she was addicted to Xanax. 
  • Through much of her incarceration, she continued to use. She also never got sufficient psychological care or job training. 
  • across the USA more than 48,000 legal restrictions limit, among other things, where former inmates can work, whether they can vote and their ability to get housing. 
  • Re-entry services have been shown to lower recidivism. Three years after incarceration, rates dropped between 6% and 19% in eight states that tracked recidivism from 2010 to 2013. 
  • A program that offers transitional services in Oklahoma, Exodus House, also managed to lower re-incarceration rates. Over seven years, only 13% of participants went back to prison. 
  • One memorable response, the one that most reflects what we saw, came from Pitman: “Are prisons in the U.S. failing inmates? I would say yes. But I would also say we as citizens are failing our fellow citizens.” 

From Ministry in the Gulags to Taking in the “Defective”

    • Of the 26,000 who age out of Russia’s orphanages annually:
      10% (2,600) will commit suicide
      40% (10,400) become alcoholics or drug addicts
      40% (10,400) commit crimes
      10% (2,600) adapt to life

      — within the first years after graduation
      *the Prosecutor General’s Office

    • 115 to 120 thousand new orphans appear annually
    • In 2006 (statistics are hard to come by, here) the estimated orphanage population was two million. Four million were on the streets.
    • A 1998 Human Rights Watch report, titled “Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanages” states that “from the moment Russian children are left in state institutions, they become victims of long-held prejudices that all abandoned children are in some way defective.”
    • interview of Anatoly
    • There were over a million people in these Russian prisons, and when our pastors were there, they would teach. They were like “salt”, as they should be, and helped people to understand the truth.
    • But when the Christians were freed, it was like there was a vacuum in these prisons — an empty place that had lost the presence of Christians.
    • Some years later, the prison governments asked us to visit the prisons again, to help people understand the truth, and to find the way to God.When I became a pastor, I was not imprisoned. But I visited prisons and told people the gospel there. God blessed this ministry — many, many prisoners became Christians, and when they became free they brought their families to Christ and served God. This ministry is very necessary in our country.
    • Through our ministry in prisons, we understood that these women and men who were imprisoned had kids, and these kids were in orphanages. God helped us to take care not only of the parents, but the kids as well. And when the prisoners became free, they would recreate their families, and live with their kids again. But God showed us that to continue our ministry in orphanages, we could not continue both ministries — our ministries took much time, and we needed more time, strength, and people to continue doing both.
    • Our ministry had been to visit kids to tell them the gospel, give them sweets, take them on weekends and holidays, and no more. But some years later, the kids who were very interested in us and in Christianity and the Bible, graduated the orphanage. We started hearing that some of them were not very successful- that they were becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. And we started to ask the question, “How can we help such people, in reality?” And God led us to go this way, and to create this transition home. We see God’s hand in this job.
    • We’ve worked here for fifteen years. When we compare the lives of orphans who have been through our transition home, and those who haven’t, it is very different. Almost ninety percent of orphans who have come and gone from this transition home have been able to find a good path in life; a job, a good family. Half of them asked the Lord into their hearts. All of them heard about God, and about salvation. During these years this ministry, we saw how these kids changed; though they did not feel a mother’s love or a father’s strength, when they become Christians they would become very very good people and real Christians.
    • Of the kids who have lived at the home, (now over seventy),

      85% study or have finished their studies
      80% have some sort of specialty
      43% have a specialty or some consistent job
      30% have started a family
      68% attend a church

    • The home’s schedule includes morning and evening malitva (prayers), and chores (gardening, cleaning, maintenance, and cooking). They attend church, (a one minute walk away), and help out there as well. Anatoly and the house parents help them to get new papers (many don’t have these), to find work, to apply for the residences promised them by the government, and encourage them in their education. Most stay from two to four years. Here, the “defectives” of Russia can learn the skills necessary for independence, to ask for help, and to pray.

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