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Entries in Prison Ministry (2)

Monday
Nov012010

Hearts Changed From the "Inside" Out

Through the He Cares Bible Study program prison inmates across the United States are given the opportunity to study the truth of the Gospel using Andrew's materials.In the early days of Andrew Wommack Ministries, prison inmates would often send letters to the ministry headquarters seeking help and direction. At the time, Marylin Knapp began corresponding with the prisoners on the ministry's behalf, and an informal prison ministry was born. This correspondence continued for almost thirty years until 2009, when Marylin, age 77, graduated to Heaven.

Within weeks of Marylin’s absence, letters from prisoners began stacking up, and AWM took steps to put a more formal program in place to effectively continue to minister to the inmates. As a result, the AWMI He Cares Bible Study Team was established (1 Peter 5:7). This new team is made up of employees from Andrew's Correspondence Department, and the team's mission is to encourage prisoners to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to give them hope through God’s Word. The team has created a new correspondence program to minister to the prisoners, which utilizes the many study guides Andrew has developed over the years. The He Cares team reaches inmates throughout the United States and its territories with these correspondence materials.

Long ago Andrew and Jamie made a promise to God that they would not deny anyone access to the truth of the Gospel for financial reasons. Because of this promise, and the generous donations of the ministry's friends and partners, inmates are able to order Andrew’s teachings and enroll in a Bible Study Correspondence Course, free of charge.

“Thank you to all who made it possible for me to receive the books and Bible Studies. Thank you for coming through, it makes a big difference in my heart! The teachings I am receiving are food for my spirit. I am seeing the truth in God’s Word in a way I have never seen before!” ~ Prisoner Y.M.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sending me a book I could not afford. This speaks in high volume of the dedication, love, anointing and mission that is behind and at the center of AWMI. What a tremendous example your ministry is. I am looking forward to the Bible lessons and growing in God’s Word.” ~ Prisoner J.N.

Close to 700 prisoners currently participate in the AWM He Cares Bible Study program.Every prisoner who contacts AWM receives a He Cares Bible Study Welcome Packet. This packet contains a letter outlining the materials available, including the following four tracts: Salvation, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Righteousness, and Healing. The packet also includes information on how to enroll in a Correspondence Bible Study of their choosing.

“I wanted to take a minute to thank you for the opportunity to do the free Bible studies. This is a blessing to me.” ~ Prisoner R.S.

The Correspondence Bible Studies are taken from Andrew’s study guides; Grace—the Power of the Gospel, Living In the Balance of Grace and Faith, Spirit, Soul & Body, and The War Is Over. Because it is the ministry's desire to see that each prisoner has a full understanding of each study, inmates are limited to studying one subject at a time.

The Bible studies are sent in loose leaf form, two lessons at a time. The prisoner completes and returns the Discipleship Question page, at their own pace, and then the team evaluates and grades their answers. Upon finishing each study they receive a certificate of achievement.

Because of the generous donations of the ministry's friends and partners, inmates are able to be a part of the program for free.Currently, 676 prisoners are enrolled in the correspondence courses. This number grows daily, as the prisoners are being blessed by the studies, and are sharing what they are learning with other inmates.

“Thank you for the Bible Studies and your TV Programs, they have changed my life. I have made copies of the studies and passed them around to other inmates; more will be writing you soon to receive the studies.” ~ Prisoner T.S.

“Thank you for praying for and with me, thank you for the materials you send to us prisoners, thank you for the Bible Studies that are helping me to grow in the Lord!” ~ Prisoner J.M.

The Correspondence Department often receives letters of thanks from prisoners for not forgetting them, and for allowing them the opportunity to study deeper into God’s Word. It is exciting for those involved with the team to read about the lives being changed and impacted in such a positive way.

Thursday
May272010

CBC Prison Ministry: Changing Lives

The Prison Ministry team from Charis Bible College, Jerry Cherian, Charlene Heatley, Caroline Walton, Darla Livingston, Garrett Ericksen, Mark Jones, Larry Hoover, Carl Reichart, Robert Smith, Sandy Upton and Johnathan Clark.
(Click to enlarge)
In 2005 Don Krow, a former Charis Bible College (CBC) instructor and coauthor of the Discipleship Evangelism (DE) program, launched a correspondence-based prison ministry as part of an overseas outreach project. In an effort to establish a similar program to touch the lives of local inmates, Don and former CBC students, Vinnie and Becky Rose, tailored the outreach specifically to meet the mail restrictions for prisoners in Colorado.

Two years after the program's inception, first year CBC-Colorado student, Charlene Heatley signed up to be a part of the prison ministry effort. At that time the project involved writing encouraging letters to local prison inmates, and sending lessons from the Discipleship Evangelism (DE) course to those prisoners who expressed interest.

An inmate's handwritten testimony
(Click to enlarge)
Through her participation in the letter exchange, Charlene developed a true heart for the ministry to the inmates, and wanted to see the prison ministry grow and become more effective. It was of utmost concern to her that the inmate’s questions were answered correctly, and that they understood what they were studying through the DE lessons. She began to write letters that were more intentional and focused on sharing the good news of
Jesus Christ.

Although the program had been established with good intentions, and was passed down through capable hands, by 2008 participation in the prison ministry had dwindled. Determined to see the program succeed, Charlene continued writing letters to minister to the inmates over the course of her summer break. She would stop by her campus mailbox once a week to check for letters from the prisoners and correspond accordingly.

Charlene composing a letter in response to an inmate submission. (Click to enlarge)When classes resumed for her second year, Charlene began the process of expanding the outreach efforts to include in-prison visitation. In order to gain the security clearance needed to enter and minister in a Colorado prison, she had to go through an application process with the Department of Corrections. This time consuming process required her to file extensive paperwork and attend special classes. Charlene kept the ministry active and moving forward, through the continued exchange of letters and lessons, while she completed the State requirements to enter the
prison facilities.

In 2009, at the beginning of Charlene's apprenticeship year, she was ready to hold a meeting for first year students interested in volunteering for the CBC Prison Ministry program. Charlene found ten students who had a heart to minister to those behind bars, and assigned one inmate to each of them. The requests for ministers from more inmates came quickly however, and soon, her student volunteers were ministering to an average of three inmates each. In addition, Charlene was writing to five inmates and making the in-prison visits. It became obvious to her that she had more responsibility than she could handle on her own. In an effort to manage the rapid growth of the ministry, she began recruiting new people to share some of the responsibility. CBC students Caroline Watson and Darla Livingston are now actively involved in the management of CBC Prison Ministry program.

Darla Livingston choosing the appropriate DE lesson to mail to one of her inmates.
(Click to enlarge)
The inmates are responding to God's unconditional love, and the message of grace shared by the prison ministry volunteers. Charlene said that it is easy to recognize when the inmate's hearts have been touched by the Word through the varied and creative ways in which they express their appreciation. Charlene said some inmates have even written songs
of thanks.

The fruit Charlene sees from this ministry fills her with joy, and she has plans in the works for the expansion of the program. As a result of the outreach, several inmates now lead their own Bible studies, and Charlene knows of one prisoner who actually held a baptismal service in the prison. “I really have a heart for this. This is a ministry of love and forgiveness.”

Charlene has submitted a request to the Colorado Department of Corrections for permission to mail Andrew’s books to the prisons in Colorado on a monthly basis. She also has plans to acquire the necessary security clearance to enable more volunteers to participate in the in-prison ministry visits. Charlene believes that the program will eventually expand to prisons across the country and internationally as well. With her determination and her heart to reach the imprisoned, Charlene will see this vision, which the Lord has given her, come to pass.