For over 40 years I have had the joy of serving as a Family Life Pastor in several churches. My responsibilities were to model living as a godly man and to influence others by God’s grace to walk with Christ in their marriages, to learn how to forgive like Christ in their families and to teach their children daily to be Christ followers at every stage of childhood and youth.
…(God) commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them (God’s laws), even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Psalm 78:5-6
Then God called me to begin serving men and women and families who are not able to attend a church or a home gathering, people who are incarcerated and their families.
Many years ago, while serving as a Family Life Pastor, some of the men in our church encouraged me to get involved in a local jail ministry called Lifeline. Even though I was clueless about jail ministry I agreed to join them.
We started with five volunteers and we began meeting with 25 inmates, encouraging them to follow Christ, to grow in godliness and to build a legacy of faith.
To be honest, I was not sure how “Family Ministry” would work in a jail setting.
He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. Malachi 4:6
We began teaching them about God’s word and how to be godly men and godly fathers. Most of the inmates did not even know their fathers. We taught them, we loved them, we listened to them and we prayed with them.
Christ began to change us, the volunteers. And the 25 inmates began coming to Christ, growing in their faith, seeking forgiveness and wanting to bring hope and healing to their children. In that one jail, 1,500 men were baptized in a four-year period.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
Five years ago, I left my lifelong vocation of church based family ministry and I became a full time missionary and the leader of Lifeline. God is blessing us and we now have this ministry established in 27 US states and in five countries across the globe: Canada, Kenya, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
Let me share one personal story about an inmate named Frank (not his real name) who found himself in prison for life at 20 years of age. A guard in his prison gave him a Bible and for a year he read God’s Word and talked from time to time with his Christian guard friends. After a year he came to faith in Christ in a transformational way. Frank began growing in his faith and he began leading worship in the prison chapel services. God greatly used Frank in this role.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
While in prison, Frank’s daughter was born and he desperately wanted to meet her. Finally, after nine years, the mother of his little girl allowed her to meet her father at one of our Returning Hearts Celebrations, a day where inmates and their children can meet, many for the first time. We organize lots of fun, food and games for the children to play with their inmate dads. And the dads have an opportunity to seek forgiveness from their children and to help bring healing to their families.
Only God could allow inmates and their families to experience forgiveness, healing and hope.
This unique family ministry began with a few faithful brothers and sisters teaching God’s word to 25 inmates.
Now scores of volunteers are teaching God’s word to tens of thousands of inmates around the United States and the World.
Will you consider joining us on this great adventure?
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3
I was in prison and you came to visit me…..The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:36-40
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.
Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Teaching?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Exhortation?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Mercy-Showing?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Serving?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Giving?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?
Lead others to discover their spiritual gifts.
For pastors and group leaders.