Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Beyond Scared Straight' Where is Jesus in our prisons? Part 2

“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)
       Last week, I was reminded of the horrors of prison life from a spectator’s perspective as I watched Beyond Scared Straight, the critically acclaimed hour-long documentary series on A&E that follows inmate-run intervention programs that expose at-risk teens to the realities of life behind bars.
       The prison environment is hostile, violent and chaotic at best. Fear, anxiety, anger, wrath, and rage are the predominant emotions. Inmates scream and yell obscenities within their cells. You can be killed, beaten, stabbed, raped, and assaulted any minute of the day.
       My question was why? Why? I just didn’t understand it.
       Why is there so much hate and violence among the prisoners? Where is Jesus in the midst of this hell? I know prison ministries exist, but from the looks of things the kingdom of darkness seemed to be winning the war against the Kingdom of Light.
       Not so at Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola State Prison — a maximum-security facility that won a reputation for being one of the most bloodiest, violent jails in the country. Reason: Jesus stepped into the picture through the Awana® Lifeline™ prison ministry. Many inmates have received Christ, and as a result, the entire prison environment has changed. The Lord walked in, and the violence walked out. The prisoners were set free from the rage, violence, and other besetting sins that plagued them.
      Lifeline is touching the hearts of these inmates through its ground-breaking prison program Returning Hearts Celebration™ and Malachi Dads™. Returning Hearts Celebration is a carnival-style event that allows day-long interaction between inmate fathers and children. Inmates have the opportunity to reconcile with children they may not have seen for years. The program debuted at Angola and has expanded to 17 other prisons and jails across the country.
       Malachi Dads is a yearlong program that trains and equips inmates to become better fathers and spiritual leaders to their children. Last year, 119 men graduated from the program at Angola (Source: Christian NewsWire).
       This is great news that should bring us infinite hope as Christians. That there is power in the gospel to change lives, even the lives of those who seem to be eternally lost. Take a few moments to watch this powerfully inspiring video. As one of my friends warned: It will bring tears to your eyes. Enjoy!

** This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays where you can visit Charlotte and Ginger's incredible blog that gives glory to God. Enjoy! **


  1. my my judy!
    what a beautiful beautiful post. and yes it brought tears to my eyes this morning in los angeles. may God bring the gift of salvation to all of these men and their children. may God use you continually to make more people aware of these things. may He continue to use you in spreading the word of Jesus.
    God bless you Judy.
    nikonsniper steve

  2. Judy,

    Well done. That's really awesome. It is an excellent model of what we can accomplish through the power of the gospel.

    For many years, I have been ministering at least once a week at Teen Missions, INc, here in Savannah. It is a 10-month, full gospel, Christ-centered discipleship program for people bound on alcohol and/or drugs. The residents live at the missions during these 10 months free of charge. Teen Missions, INc. has locations throughout the U.S. They have one of the highest success rates in the country. One of the reasons I love ministering there is because these people come in messed up, not knowing where to turn, and so when they enter the program, they are not like many church folks. These people don't merely want religion. They are tired of the way they have been living, and they mean business with God. I continue to be amazed at the transforming power of God as I minister there.

    Thanks for sharing this powerful post.

  3. What a wonderful testimony to the power of God. How wonderful it would be if every prison had programs like this. Thank you for sharing the video.

    I'm glad you found Spiritual Sundays and look forward to your sharing there with us.

  4. Really strong post, Judy. Yes, and such a testament to the awesome power of God. He is able to reach into the deepest strongholds of the enemy - and release the captives and set the prisoners free.

    What wonderful programs - and I'm so glad to know that these exist.


  5. Judy,
    I read your blog with interest because I am an adopted aunt to two nephews who have been in and out of the Arkansas prison system. One of them is now on Work Release, and hopes to be out later this year. The other is having health problems and currently hospitalized. It seems each time they are incarcerated they draw close to the LORD, but when released those good intentions fail as they reconnect with old friends. ...Praying this time will be different...

  6. Thank you for sharing this important topic with us.That is a wonderful prison ministry and testifies to the peace, grace and forgiveness that only comes through the Cross.

  7. this was amazing but it made me feel sad that it took murder...rape...violence...to bring these men to this place...I know there is power in Christ...I think it needs to be put out in the community more to save others from this horrible life. thanks for posting this...It got me to really think

  8. Judy:

    Both my husband and I have participated in prison ministry. (In fact, today he is at a maximum security prison here in Texas with a group from our church.) The program we have is called "Day With Dads" and it allows offenders an opportunity to spend a few hours with their children without the usual barriers. I've written about some of our experiences there (just click on the lable "prison ministry" to read the posts.) God is doing a mighty work behind prison walls.

    Thank you for sharing this today.


  9. Wow, that touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. God is awesome that He is so faithful even to those behind bars. Knowing there are physical bars and spiritual bars. God is still faithful.

  10. It breaks my heart to think of what people have to endure in prisons, but I also know that many find God there. God bless all the prison ministries and those who reach out to prisoners. It is a mission field.

  11. Great post...powerful video.
    Everyone needs encounter with the love of God
    Be touched by peace….
    Much Blessings,

  12. We have two friends who minister to prisoners. One in a federal prison. The stories of God changing lives are amazing. Awesome video and post.

  13. Thank you for your post.. I have a few friends who are Prison Chaplains and my prayers indeed go out to them as they endeavour to show Christ in a environment which is so often hostile..

  14. Enjoyed your post. There are so many verses about ministering to and praying for those in prison and I know I neglect to do so. Thank you for the reminder. There is a beautiful, tiny, young mother at our church who goes and leads a Bible Study at a prison near us. I am amazed and shamed.
    Enjoyed your pictures and your site. I am a photographer-wanna be.

  15. Amazing. The power of God to CHANGE! Thank you for posting this.

  16. Yes, God's power is beyond words...Praising Him...Sharing in Christ's Spirit~~~Hugs Dena

  17. I am so thankful I took the time to watch this video. What a beautiful example of the power and love of our Father.

  18. Hi Judy,

    I'm glad I read this followup to Part 1. I thank God for those whom he has called to bring the gospel of peace in the lives of those behind bars. One of the inmates said something which I believe affects so many of the incarcerated, he never heard his father say I love you son.

    How many men and women have never heard those words? Thanks be to God who is changing the culture and climate for those in prison.

    Blessings and peace.



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