Prison ministry

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by brendanchatt, Sep 16, 2018.

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  1. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I totally understand getting involved with aspects of your community, but I always think passages like Hebrews 13:3 seems to be about inprisonment out of persecution for the faith.

  2. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    So 'sinners' don't need the Gospel?
    Perhaps I missed it. But it looks like you are responding to someone without a context...
  3. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Many prisoners are new believers, and they need help growing in God's grace. As well, they need companionship - to know they are loved and cared for. Many people commit crimes, and truly repent but still face the consequences of what they did in the past. We must be merciful, compassionate, and willing to be a friend to such people in their difficult circumstances.
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  4. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    My apologies. I think there’s plenty of scripture and wisdom to support ministering to those in prison. I just don’t know if Hebrews 13:3 was written to teach that, as I’ve seen it used.
  5. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Let’s not forget that the Apostle Paul, had he been alive today, would be in prison for the rest of his life for the terroristic crimes he committed against humanity before his conversion. When the Spirit of God, however, arrested him (pun certainly intended), he became the Church’s greatest asset. Prisoners changed by God’s grace, I would imagine, have a greater grasp of the gospel than most—certainly greater than mine—and therefore can be great instruments for gospel work in our world.
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  6. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

  7. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

  8. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Paul was a terrorist, even anachronistically? That's a strange assertion. While he witnessed and approved of the stoning of Stephen and perhaps others, he was merely acting within the confines of the justice system of the time. Stoning was the punishment prescribed for blasphemy. One approving of the death penalty properly administered would hardly be charged with terrorism today.
  9. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is an example:

    It would one thing if the ministry was focused on visiting the persecuted. Even if not, I’m sure there are connections to be made about outreach, and the ease of forgetting those locked up. I just haven’t seen the connection drawn up in such a way, as I recall.
  10. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    Trent, looks like your reply got wrapped up in a quote, like I said it.

    Glad it was useful. I just pulled it off Google quickly for an example.
  11. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    You seem to have missed the point of my comment.
  12. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I think that verse may still have application. There are Christian Men and women in prison. I assure you that Christian Men and women are persecuted for their faith in the Jail house just like Christins are persecuted for their faith outside of the jail house. They are united to you and i through the blood of Christ. So we should not forget them because we should still bear things with one another. Now this does not excuse the sin which landed them there, but their sin does not absolve us of our duty to them.

    So is the verse often abused.... YES most verses are.
    Being punished for a sin that is a transgression of the moral law is not persecution. Rather persecution is rightly understood as a result of being faithful at times.

    Does the Hebrews verse have application within Metanoia’s setup.... YES because you could potentially disciple a Christian prisoner who is being persecuted for their faith while in prison (who was not imprisoned for their faith)

    So unless they are providing you a commentary on the verse that states a misinterpretation, I don’t think you can charge them with misusing the text.

    Also some of the most horrifying stories of mistreatment occur In prisons. So if there are Christians in Prisons, then there are Christians who are potentially subject to mistreatment. I do not mean that an inmates sentence should be considered mistreatment, but rather the various things that occur between inmates during their incarceration.

    I do still see your point and I too would be more comfortable using that verse to apply to those imprisoned and mistreated for their faithfulness to God. However, I can see it still being applicable to Metanois’s Ministry structure. But you could always email Metanoia and ask them. They are efficient at responding to emails in my experiences.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  13. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate some of the connections you are making, Grant.

    I think it’s important to be careful not to wrongly bind the conscience. I don’t know a lot about Metanoia, but I don’t like when these passages are quoted, followed by a question like, “are you called to this ministry?” I feel like there is an issue with the vagueness; even if it’s not a conscience misinterpretation, but perhaps a mishandling of the text.

    Hope that made sense, I’m a little tired.
  14. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I see what you are saying and I agree. I don’t think they are intending to do that intentionally (but I do not speak for them).

    Don’t feel obligated to be involved, remember there a many ways outside of Prison Minstry to serve the body, but if you have about approx. 1 hr. (per inmate and not including praying for them) you could spare a month, I would encourage (and not obligate) you to consider it.

    All the material I have seen thus far has been extremely solid on the basic understanding of the reformed essentials of salvation. However, I am only 5 lessons in with my new found brother in Christ.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  15. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm inclined to think you're right about those texts, but even if they were specifically dealing with the church's duty to evangelize in prisons, nobody should be able to guilt-trip you into a "prison ministry" any more than they should guilt trip you about "door knocking" ("Didn't Paul go house to house?!"), about "street preaching," or about going to the mission field or even giving extra for whatever cause they're all het up about just then.

    I have had all these pressures applied, and even had a guy almost get angry at me last year because I didn't just drop everything, abandon job and family and church duties and all, and go evangelize the flood victims in Texas. "But the field is white unto harvest!!!" Sure, but the Lord of the harvest must send workers, and not ones for whom going would be to sin against his family and his church.

    The prison ministry, like every other legitimate gospel endeavor, must be done by the Church. Has your local church called, vetted and trained men for this ministry? Well and good. Your tithes support it, your prayers uphold it, your fellowship encourages the minister. Has your church not engaged in such ministry? Perhaps the session should discuss that need and lay hold of that gospel opportunity. But you should not suffer agonies of conscience for not doing something you have not been called--by which I mean properly called, vetted and trained--to do.
  16. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Where in the world did you get that? You are way off base there.
  17. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior



    I've long be involved in and supportive of ministry in jails and prisons. I think for all the obvious reasons it's a place that the church needs to minister and provides a great opportunity for sharing the gospel both with those who profess faith and those who do not.

    Having said that, the reference to imprisonment in Heb. 13:3 is about visiting those incarcerated for the faith. Thus the first line of application for us would be those who are thus imprisoned today, being persecuted for the faith (as is the case throughout the world) and, in our own culture, those who suffer loss in some measure because of the faith (I know people driven out of their wedding photography business, e.g., due to LGBTQ pressures and opposition). Heb. 13:3 would thus call us not to forget but to continue and engage and care for those imprisoned for the faith and those suffering in other ways because they remain faithful to Christ in the face of pressures.

    I think it important, Brendan, to exegete Scripture in its original context properly and then to apply it properly to us. The Lord wants us to continue to care for and help those persecuted for the faith, whether in prison or in other ways dispossessed or come against because they practice the faith. If we cite biblical verses meant to instruct us in this caring treatment of the persecuted as if they referred primarily, and perhaps even exclusively (I've seen it used that way in some cases), to those incarcerated for legitimate crimes we are in danger of losing the intended meaning.

    I appreciate what Grant and others have said here and would agree that there is a secondary application that one can make from Heb. 13:3 to apply to those imprisoned for breaking legitimate laws (especially who are suffering as Christians among the prison population). There are also other places in Scripture that have implications for ministering to those incarcerated regardless of the reason for their being jailed.

    We still want to make sure, however, that we visit in jail those put there for the testimony of Jesus (and in other ways care for and relieve those suffering for the faith). Because American society does not presently, thankfully, have a surfeit of such does not mean that we should reinterpret the Scripture here and lose something important that the Lord commands of us, both with respect to prison and in other ways that our fellow believers may be suffering for the Christian faith.

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  18. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    That’s two people that have missed the point of my comment...

    Is it because I said “Apostle Paul” instead of “Saul”? I thought it was general consensus that Saul was a wicked, wicked man who committed evils against others. Even he himself admitted that.

    But, once again, none of this is the point of my post.
  19. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    If the point of your post is made from a fallacious example, then perhaps you should change it. I'm really not sure what your point was and how it was relevant to the topic at hand as pre-conversion Paul doesn't seem to fit in any of the categories being discussed.

    To him particularly, Saul or Paul pre-conversion is the same thing, He was a wicked man as an unbeliever who persecuted Christians. He, however, was righteous according to the flesh and zealous for the law. If there was anyone not likely to get arrested for "terroristic crimes," it was Paul before his conversion as he was such a zealous lawkeeper and inclined to be among the ruling party.
  20. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Okay, well, if you guys refuse to take my comment in the spirit that it was given (which others seemed to perceive and appreciate, given the multiple positive reactions on my original comment), and if you guys find the comment so egregious, then please take it up with the moderators, and let them decide what to do with me.

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  21. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I think Taylor is saying the moral nature of what he was doing was terrible, and according to today's laws, that kind of treatment of others would have put him in prison. It was permissible at that time, though that didn't make it right. It was still sin though the law didn't recognize it as that. I think that's what he's getting at.
  22. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you. This is what I was getting at. However, I would argue that the law absolutely did not permit the persecution of Christians. Perhaps the corrupted Pharisee interpretation did, but it is unthinkable that the law of God actually permitted the persecution of God’s own people. When Paul said that he was blameless according to the law, I cannot imagine he meant according to a right understanding of it.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  23. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    My whole point, since some people refuse to see it, is that if the worst people in the Bible can be great assets to the gospel, then the “worst” people in our society, namely, prisoners, can be great assets, also.
  24. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Jesus commanded the Gospel to go forth to entire world, and there was not a disclaimer saying except for prisons.
  25. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    The law required the stoning of blasphemers and heretics. The execution of that law as such was blameless. The issue was that the courts of justice rendered a guilty verdict on the innocent (Christians). Saul was not morally blameless for this, but he was civilly and, since we are talking about imprisonment, the discussion is revolving around civil rather than moral law. Now of course if Saul participated in the stoning of a Christian in the US he would be a criminal. But, more likely, mutatis mutandis, is that his unconverted legalism would express differently and according to the social mores of the time as tending to social advancement and honor. It's hard to imagine Saul being the sort of reckless, undisciplined thug that forms the majority populace of American prisons. It was a strange example to encourage ministry to criminals--something that can be easily justified by other means.
  26. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I’m not trying to be rude in dismissing you. I just find it particularly annoying when the spirit of what I say is ignored in the interest of what I perceive to be faultfinding and nitpicking, especially when it derails the post.

    That’s the end of my involvement in this discussion. Thanks.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  27. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I won't speak for anyone else, but I will say that your post upthread is off base and shows an ignorance of history and scripture. I'd urge you to sit under competent teachers and learn some basics, if that is what you've been taught.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Here is a very inspiring story I read about the prison chaplain to the Nazis' about to die. Prison ministry is very honorable:

    Henry Gerecke's story should be enough to motivate us all into a renewed respect of all who minister to prisoners, even the most blatantly evil and guilty of them:

    "Here is this farmer’s kid from Missouri whose father never wanted him to be pastor,’ the author told MailOnline. ‘He shocked his wife and family when he told them: "'I want to try to minister to the people who are destitute and living in the streets and jails". He was clearly drawn to that.'

    An evangelical Christian, Gerecke started ministering in missions in St. Louis in 1935, working tirelessly with prisoners in the downtown city jail, medium security prisons and local hospitals, giving endless hours of his time, Townsend relates.

    In June 1943, at age 50, he applied and was accepted as an Army chaplain and recruited to attend to wounded and dying American and Allied troops in hospitals outside of London. He was promoted to captain and became a ranking chaplain officer when the Allies invaded Normandy in June 1944.

    His unit, the Ninety-Eighth, was then sent to Munich to set up care in a bombed-out hospital facing a ‘full-blown typhoid epidemic.’ Germans had been consuming spoiled food and the waste conditions were deplorable.

    In 1945 Captain Gerecke was informed that he was being sent to Nuremberg to serve as a spiritual adviser to men considered the scourge of the earth as they awaited trial for their crimes against humanity.

    He was given the chance to opt out of the mission, but he believed he could return these men to their faith, Townsend explains.

    ‘Pastor Gerecke’s view was that in his domain God alone was Judge and the question of earthly guilt had no significance so far as he was concerned. His only duty was the care of souls,’ wrote Hans Fritzsche, who, on trial as Hitler’s radio propaganda chief, was one of Gerecke’s Nuremberg flock.

    Gerecke hoped to convince these criminals that it really was God’s judgment that they should fear.

    Gerecke was an unlikely-looking candidate for the job, says author Townsend, ’a really small guy, middle aged, with a belly, glasses and gray receding hair.’

    Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, was also reading a book when Gerecke came to his cell the first time. ‘I asked him what he was reading. He all but knocked me speechless by replying, “My Bible.”’

    Keitel said, ‘I know from this book that God can love a sinner like me.’

    ‘A phony,’ thought Gerecke.

    Fritz Sauckel, once head of labor supply for Hitler and called ‘the greatest and cruelest slaver since the pharaohs of Egypt' who worked millions of slave laborers to death without mercy, was repentant.

    When Gerecke appeared, he exclaimed: ‘As a pastor, you are one person to whom I can open my heart.’

    During their conversation, Sauckel wiped away many tears and agreed to attend chapel services.

    Gerecke’s footsteps echoed in the corridor as he walked from cell to cell and greeted each of the 21 Nazis.

    The final visitation that day was to Albert Speer, architect of the Third Reich. Speer saved himself from death by admitting responsibility and cooperating with his interrogators.

    He told Gerecke it was 'the neglect of genuine Christianity that caused its downfall'. Speer said, 'Gerecke was "a man with a warm heart…he cared"'.

    Gerecke wondered how many of the Nazis, whose collective crimes were so immense, would in fact, attend his weekly services. Thirteen of the men attended – and continued to come on the following Sundays.

    And before they were put to death, eight former Nazis received communion for their sins from the pastor.

    The final visitation day was September 28, 1946 and most of the prisoners said goodbye to their families."

    The chaplain asked the little girl [Goering's daughter] if she said her prayers. ‘I pray every night,’ Edda told the pastor. ‘I kneel by my bed and look up to heaven and ask God to open my daddy's heart and let Jesus in.’ e said her prayers. ‘I pray every night,’ Edda told the pastor. ‘I kneel by my bed and look up to heaven and ask God to open my daddy's heart and let Jesus in.’"
  29. Timmay

    Timmay Puritan Board Freshman

    I read this book. It’s great.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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