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"Why Focus On Prisoners?"

I sometimes come across people who are less than sympathetic when it come to prison ministry. The thinking goes “Why focus on prisoners? After all, aren't they merely getting what they deserve? Should we not concentrate rather upon the victims of crime?” Now, I can understand this attitude, and of course we should never forget the victims. However, in Matthew 25 Jesus challenges His followers to tend to those in need. He speaks of the hungry, the thirsty, strangers, those in need of clothing and yes, he mentions visiting those in prison. Remarkably He declares “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” In prison ministry I come across all kinds of people. Some are more receptive to the gospel than others, but I find that God is most definitely at work in the hearts of many inmates.

I have learned over the years not to focus so much on what people may have done in the past, but to realise that God has brought them across my path for a moment in time, and that I should take the opportunity at that moment to share the gospel of Christ with them. In prisons, I come across men who have lost everything and feel that they have had a “wake up call” and want to turn their lives around, as if the Lord is saying to them “Have I got your attention now?” The Bible is full of examples of people who took a wrong turn in life, making bad decisions and yet, by the grace of God were given a second chance. We only have to read of Moses, David and Jonah to name but three, to see how a life can be redeemed and turned around.

Yes, those in prison have often had a dark and nefarious past, but as the apostle Paul says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. We may consider that we are not as bad as some, but every one of us needs the grace and mercy of God. If His grace had not been shown to us then none of us would have been saved. I see the encounters I have with prisoners as opportunities to win souls for Christ and see lives changed for His glory.

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