I have been asking for prayer covering for 24 hours a day for the past few weeks yet there were only a few who responded to my request. Where are the prayer warriors?
We have needed the prayer covering all along, but now we need it more than ever. We need covering as we go, we need the finances, but we also need the covering because we battle against principalities, and powers, rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places. See Ephesians 6:12
Here, is what is going on in the state level, and why we (and others involved in prison ministry) need the covering.
The NC legislature has already passed a bill that still needs to be voted on in the immediate future (within the next few days). This bill will fire all 54 of the NC chaplains and try to replace them with volunteer chaplains.
They also will close the smaller work release units and build bigger medium/max units at enormous costs to the tax payer.
This will definitely cause some of the local prison staff (officers, programmers, kitchen staff, etc.) to lose their jobs or relocate far away from their homes.
You would also be surprised at how many local businesses’s use work release inmate labor, which helps to prepare them to go back into society. It helps them to have a few dollars in their account for when they are released, to help support their families, (which are the burden of the tax payer if the inmate cannot provide for them), and so they have some money when they go home. Think about it: no money when released, no job, sometimes no home to go to? What do you think happens next? They will most likely reoffend!
The volunteer chaplaincy might work if there were enough volunteer chaplains to go around, but there are not enough, for several reasons.
The state requires an enormous amount of education, they are legally required to have a four-year degree, an advanced theology degree, and one year of pastoral care training, or two years in a pastorate, which to put it bluntly, is overkill for a volunteer.
Men and women who have this much education will for the most part go into the secular field to work, not volunteer. The secular field will pay them and therefore give them a return on their educational investment.
The prisons are willing to give them (volunteers) a job for which to be quite honest, is more of a calling than a job, the big problem with that is that we, for the most part cannot supply them with our services when the requirements are so high and because we do have to make living somehow.
Most of the chaplains I have had the pleasure of knowing, are called. They give council, they minister to the needs of the population, they give out death notices, and they minister to staff, officers, and family members of the inmates. They have an enormous amount of paperwork, are required to have knowledge of prison policies and procedures and almost always, barely get noticed, or thanked, for what they do.
As a good friend put it, they use us Christians because they know we will do it for free but they obviously will not call for volunteers to be correctional officers, programs staff, kitchen staff, superintendents, and so on. But because we love the inmates and believe that Jesus died for them as well as for us, we will step up to the plate and do what is necessary (as we are able to).
One option is to have community (church) supported chaplains. We have some close personal friends who used to be volunteer chaplains at a prison, when they stepped into the role of chaplains, their support base dropped by 50%, many of those who stopped giving, were long time supporters of their ministry.
The chaplaincy at that prison is still done by volunteers, but it has taken 8 years for the local churches to come together to fund these volunteer chaplains, and I feel pretty confident in saying that they surely are not completely funded as of this date.
If this goes through, we will lose good chaplains, we will overcrowd the local jails, more of the offenders will be walking the streets than before, and we can bet there will be an increase in crime because most offenders feel like they already get a “get out of jail free” card.
They will have to hire more probation and parole officers, buy them cars and so on. Most of these officers only get to see the offenders about 15 minutes per month as it is.
Some will say (and I have heard it personally): they are right where they belong, they need to serve their time, they are all in country club prisons, they don’t need us to provide them anything more than what they already get, etc, etc...
Those who say this first of all do not know what Jesus can do in their lives; they also most likely have never stepped inside of a prison. They do not know what the average inmate goes through, how they can be treated, etc.. some of these are really good people who just made one bad mistake too many and are now paying the consequences for what they have done. Others, have led a life of crime, but are still paying the consequences as well. They ALL need Jesus, and the chaplains, can provide them the opportunity to find that relationship with Him.
(By the way: We as volunteers could loose the privilege of ministering in these prisons, if the chaplains loose their jobs.)
These people have a TV or movie mentality and think everyone is evil incarnate, or are laid back and getting anything, and everything their hearts desire. This is most definitely NOT true.
If most of us could look into our neighbor's home and see some of the things they do, or even if we could be completely honest, look at our own life, we should be there as well.Tell me we have never stolen anything, lied about someone, cheated on taxes, overcharged, and the list goes on, and on.
How often do we see church goers, little league coaches, mothers, leaders in local law enforcement, community leaders, and others, in the paper for some crime, we never could have imagined they would be capable of doing?
In 1982, I was personally facing 15 years in prison, but God made a change in me that has lasted 29 years and I have no intention in turning back. I am a testimony of what God wants to do in the lives of, not just inmates, but everyone.
The prisoners, for the most part are not there for the violent crimes we see on TV, there are the few, but that is not the majority.
Here is the real issue, Jesus thought the murderer at His side on the cross, was worthy to come into His presence in Heaven, he told us to go into the prisons, he told us not to judge, but to let Him do that, and His love is unconditional, not just to us, but to everyone who would come to Him.
And last, these people are getting out one day, they will live somewhere, they will be somebody's neighbor. Do we want them living next door to us as new creatures, or the way they were before they went in? See 2 Corinthians 5:17
We need these chaplains, we for the most part have great chaplains, who love the inmates, and are willing to do whatever they have to for the Kingdom. They serve as inmate pastors who do what our pastors do for us, but with many more issues to deal with.
We need the smaller prisons, the jobs they provide, the overcrowding of the local jails that they relieve, and the added security they provide for those who really do need to be there.
Please read the articles in the links below, call your senators, sign the petition, and PRAY.
In Him, Jim
sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/keep-funding-for-nc-prison-chaplains