In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Prison Ministry Fellowship

https://firstantiochchurch.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/prisonministry.jpg?w=700&h=458
Photo from FAC
I wrote a while back about being impressed to pursue ministering to prisoners or ex-prisoners.  The day I thought God was speaking this to my heart, I went online and looked into what was going on in this regard in my community.  I came across a group named Prison Ministry Fellowship.  I was familiar with this group because when my children were small we sometimes donated to the their project angel tree at Christmas time. So I contacted them and was emailed by Audrey, who is the southern California field director for this group.

It's been a process:
  • First I completed a PMF volunteer application and had to obtain 3 references, one of whom needed to be a leader or pastor at the church I attend.
  • Once my initial application was accepted, I was set up to complete 4 online courses.  Each of these courses had 4 modules and each module had between 3-6 lessons. ( I was super impressed with these courses. They taught about prison culture, how to teach, how to mentor, and the TUMI program.  They also provided relevant case studies that gave a clearer view of what this type of ministry would involve.)
  • Then I had to get a PPD.
  • Then I had a face to face interview with Audrey yesterday.
The interview was set for 1:30PM and I expected it would be an hour.  But we ended up talking and lost all track of time.  When I followed her into an office area to print off some paperwork for me, we were both astounded to find that the clock indicated that it was 3:45PM. It was a wonderful time together.  This woman has such a heart and passion for prison ministries and a testimony that almost made me cry.

It was interesting because I'd indicated all along that I have a desire to serve so I can work wherever is needed, but my big interest is mentoring women who've been released. When we met and actually discussed the needs, I found that they have a huge need for programs in the local men's prison. The local men's prison, CRC, is a medium level II correctional facility. They have a specific program CRC started back in November where young men ages 18-21 are somewhat separated out from the rest of the population. They need instructors to teach PFM pre-release curriculum to these inmates. The curriculum involves practical skills so the inmates have better chances of success when they leave the institution.  Topics include such things as job seeking, interviews, job maintenance, healthy relationships, personal goal setting, time management, etc. Audrey explained these courses as practical life classes with God at the back of them. PMF already has topic related experts who volunteer and teach courses on boundaries and anger management.

I have some mixed thoughts about working with that group.  On the good side I know they need the programs, they're scared children on one level, if they can get their lives together now they have such a better prognosis for their lives, and I've always had a soft spot for young men (most likely because I have 3 sons, who are currently ages 28, 24, & 23).  On the down side I'm guessing this group is less quick to open up and share because of their fears, they are more likely to think they already know it all, they are extremely testosterone-fuled, and I'm not sure I'd appeal to this group.  However, maybe I could be a positive mother figure for them.  I don't know.  I'm praying about it.

Audrey has a super great relationship to the warden there, so she said she'll get me a provisional clearance for the month of May. I just had to complete a provisional clearance form to be run by CRC.  Then I can go in and observe the pre-release classes for this age group, pre-release courses for the regular population, and TUMI curriculum for both groups.  TUMI is an acronym for The Urban Ministries Institute.  I looked over that curriculum and was very impressed. It covers college level Bible courses and is set up so that even people with low reading skills can do the work.  This curriculum was developed by a man who has a calling from God to equip ministers to work in urban areas.

I'm praying and waiting on the Lord regarding what He wants me to do.  Audrey felt convinced that if I come in and observe I'll find if I am meant to be involved in prison ministries.  She also has no doubt that when I observe, it will be really clear to me where I'm meant to minister.

There's a several page application I still need to complete so that CRC can clear me to volunteer there and I would need to go through a 4-hour CRC volunteer orientation that is offered once each quarter.

Right now I'm just trying to do what I think God is leading me to do and taking it one step at a time.

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