Prison ministry volunteers are often asked to engage in this ministry with little or no experience or exposure to the culture or environment. Although prison ministry shares many similarities with other ministries, it is also uniquely different.
Members of this population:
- Have been alienated from friends and family. Past actions have eroded many relationships.
- Have been living in a way that is in contradiction to Biblical mandates.
- Can be leery other’s intent, including ministry volunteers, due to previous unhealthy relationships.
- Are emotionally immature and incapable of coping rationally with problems. Some have even learned that drugs and alcohol temporarily solve their physical and emotional problems, so they avoid need to deal with painful, difficult decisions.
The Environment (in-prison activities):
The Bucks County Department of Corrections endeavors to promote public safety through professional and ethical interactions with offenders in our charge, other criminal justice and public safety agencies, treatment providers, and the community.
- We will ensure that our environment is safe and secure for all offenders, employees, and visitors.
- In the event of an emergency, contact any available staff member.
- Dress appropriately and do not wear excessive jewelry or perfume/cologne.
- Do not leave gates or doors ajar.
- The department reserves the right to remove any volunteer from services if deemed necessary.
- Always conduct yourself in a professional manner. No touching is permitted. Avoid issues that do not pertain to your session/program. Engage only in appropriate language and use formal titles when possible.
In many ways, Life Abundant, Inc.’s approach can be summed up in a three-word motto:
Food – Friend – Freedom
The Food is where we intend to meet the immediate physical and emotional need. This is accomplished by embracing the humanness of the inmate, i.e. talking with them and listening to them.
Being the Friend signifies the attempt to share with them the best news the world has ever received; news about Jesus the Christ. We are trying to direct each mentee into the loving arms of Christ…the great friend who laid his life down for the world.
The Freedom represents the ultimate truth that we have to explain to the new convert. The man or women you are mentoring will have a difficult time once released. The hope is that they will recognize that there is a life of abundance waiting for them, if they choose a walk with Christ.
The Life Abundant, Inc. staff members, board of directors and affiliates utilize evidence-based practices, participatory action research (PAR) and other innovative programmatic models to train volunteers to be more effective in their work.
The Life Abundant, Inc. team is available to speak to congregations, community organizations and businesses regarding the correctional system, faith-based approaches and evidence-based strategies.