Prison ministry transforms lives and offers opportunities for trauma healing and lifelong change.
“A lot of us aren’t going to make parole. A lot of us are going to die in prison. We are trying to change with the community that we have.”
These are the words of a former gang leader who unexpectedly found faith in Jesus while serving a life sentence in prison.
Notorious Aryan Brotherhood leader, Jason, found Jesus while spending 23 hours a day in segregation because of his violent acts. Keep reading to learn about his life before his life changed, and he became involved in prison ministry and Word Impact’s church-based seminary class.
In the 90s, when Jason was given his sentence, gang activity within the prison was extremely dangerous. Trauma was part of everyday life. Staying alive required gang members to stay within their race and to kill or be killed.
Eventually, Jason found himself killing the very men he called brother. The warfare he engaged in landed him in segregation with no human contact.
During that time, his interest in religion was piqued when he heard other prisoners arguing about their faith. While he sat alone, the men in adjacent rooms argued about their Muslim and Christian differences. These discussions prompted him to request books on theology and philosophy. Over time, he put his faith in Jesus.
But that’s not where his story ends.
As his literacy increased, Jason gave up the Aryan Brotherhood, quit using smuggled heroin, and enrolled in The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) through World Impact to study different religions.
When the time came for him to receive the hospice unit’s position of field minister and chaplain’s assistant, he held the hands of prisoners taking their last breath. For the first time, he realized that he’d become numb to death since his only experiences with end-of-life moments had been violent and traumatic. He was in need of trauma healing and a place to channel his passion for sharing Christ with other prisoners.
Jason learned how to introduce the scriptures in relatable terms through TUMI and share the gospel. This passion gave Jason a new purpose within the prison walls: to mentor other men into faith in Christ.
Along his faith journey, Jason was positively impacted by World Impact’s Prison Ministry and TUMI. Here’s more info on how these two pivotal programs work together to transform lives.
2 Components That Set Apart World Impacts Prison Ministry:
World Impact assists thousands of prisoners in receiving useful instruction and gaining essential skills for urban ministry and church leadership. Then, we prepare churches and ministries to work with freed released inmates, offer them discipleship, and give them the tools they need to carry out effective ministry in some of our cities’ most overlooked neighborhoods.
1. Training on the Inside
We establish Church-Based Seminary satellites inside prisons in partnership with churches and ministries.
2. Training on the Outside
World Impact’s Onesimus Workshops train churches and ministries to equip prisoners and welcome the formerly incarcerated into the life of the church while empowering them to do effective ministry.
Named after the runaway slave in the book of Philemon, the workshop is designed to equip leaders as your ministry creates space for returning citizens to use their giftings for the Kingdom.
Related reading: Evaluating Theological Education in Prison
JESUS CHOSE OUTCASTS
After attending TUMI and dedicating his life to sharing the gospel with other prisoners, here’s what Jason had to say about the outcome of his education:
“I can hang with these guys who I know are on drugs. I can hang with these guys and give them the gospel. I can help them. And [it’s amazing] watching those lights come on in their head when you introduce them to scripture that they’ve kind of glossed over…”
But Jesus chose people who were overlooked and forgotten, just like Jason and the men that he is working with inside the prison walls. And when they have the opportunity to discover Jesus and learn His practical applications to everyday life—inside and outside of the prison walls—lives are transformed.
Currently, Jason and a fellow minister named Jackie, a Black man formerly known as “The Fighter,” now lead classes in the most feared and dangerous unit in the prison, called Terror Dome. Their group, made up of men from every color and walk of life, join in prayer, united in a brotherhood that transcends racially divided gangs.
Celebrate with us the lives that are being transformed for the Kingdom.
Learn more about the connection between personal trauma healing and the Gospel.