The Joy of Transformational Ministry

When one thinks of prison, usually the tendency is to visualize a dark, desolate place, filled with gloom and doom. Despair, pain and desolation are considered to be the norm. Prison has the connotation of being a place that no one wants to go and no one in their right mind would go there intentionally!

Well, allow me to dispel that notion. Prison is a place that is filled with hope. There can be joy inside the cinder walls and barbed wire. The possibilities are endless. Light does shine on the inside. Sometimes, love, hope and joy are pumped in by outsiders that are called by God to spread the gospel to those that have either strayed away, never been introduced or just need to be revived in the power and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

As a former inmate, I have first hand knowledge of what prison really is. Television has painted a picture that is grossly distorted because if the truth were to be told, no one would watch. Is it dangerous? Sure. Do people get hurt? Yes. Can it be a dark, cold place? Of course. But there is still hope. And prison is the best thing that could have happened to some of us.

Look at a prison. Then, look at a school in the inner city. Both are made with cinder blocks and concrete. Neither have many windows. The colors of the outer walls are similar. The only real difference is the absence of the gates, fences and armed guards that distinguish prisons from all other facilities.

So how is there joy in a place like that? How can hope exist? How can love be spread and shown where so much pain exists and where so much evil is taking place? One way is through the inmate realizing who he/she is and acknowledging the fact that the power lies within them. The other way is through volunteers bringing those things in with them. Darkness is driven away by light and evil is pushed out by love.

Prison Fellowship has begun its Transformational Ministry in Memphis, TN at the Mark Luttrell Correctional Facility for women. We met for 4 weeks, one day a week in preparation for the grand opening event that took place on Monday, August 30, 2010. In our previous 4 weeks, we began building our relationships with each other and our participants. A bond was formed that was only made complete and strong by the power of God.

On Monday, the inmates (I hate that word) presented me and my wife with hand made gifts for our newborn baby. The ladies knitted baby Jewel a blanket, a hat, shoes and they even handcrafted a gift bag. To top it off, they made cards and all of them signed their names. I was almost in tears. I was crying on the inside. It was beautiful. And it was not what I expected. I went in to bring them a message, and I ended up leaving prison with gifts! I LEFT THE PRISON WITH GIFTS! These ladies don’t have jobs. These ladies have VERY limited resources. Yet they felt the desire to be a blessing.

Transformational Ministry is one that brings so many rewards to the volunteer. In assisting others, our faith is increased. In our efforts to love others, Jesus’ love toward us becomes more concrete! By caring for those that society has given up on, God has to bless us with the strength to endure.

There is no greater joy than to see someone finally realize that Jesus is REAL! And knowing that you helped to make that happen gives one a sense of accomplishment and it makes one want to duplicate that feeling over and over again. It’s addictive. It makes life worth living. I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! If you haven’t tried any ministry outside of the church, give it a try. The rewards are priceless.

I challenge you to facilitate change in someone’s life. Your life will never be the same.
Pastor Brown