Matthew 25: 37 – 45 37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[g]42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
The Salvation Army has found a hard-to-strike balance of serving both the victim and the perpetrator. This scripture from Matthew 25 highlights Jesus’ love for all people and how to tangibly love and care for the ‘least of these’ which includes victim and criminal.
There are mixed feelings about loving the prisoner and I was reminded of that when I saw the comments on a Facebook post by author, Shauna Niequist (see HERE) regarding Willow Creek’s inmate care package packing event. Many expressed their feelings that prisoners didn’t deserve this act and the time, money and resources could have been better used. My honest question when it comes down to moments and debates like this is, what would Jesus do? Really, what would he do?
I think we all deep down know exactly what he would do, and if you don’t I’ll refer you back to Matthew 25. Throughout the Central Territory the Salvation Army is involved in prison and corrections ministry – directly with the prisoner or with their family. See below the ways Jesus is using the Salvation Army to minister to the prisoner, and even how you can get involved.
At Territorial Headquarters…
The Salvation Army’s Bible Correspondence Courses are available free of charge to all incarcerated persons. For many, the lessons offer new understandings and form the base for developing a spiritual motivation for their lives. Those receiving the lessons learn to study the Bible teachings and apply them in a practical way. This program and the studies given are designed to guide the reader through the teaching in a fundamental approach. The Bible courses are offered in both English & Spanish and are distributed from Central Territorial Headquarters directly to interested prison offenders. The Bible lessons are graded by volunteers for the Salvation Army.
Any adult Christian who has basic Bible knowledge, good reading and writing skills living within the Central Territory who would like to know more about volunteer Bible lesson grading opportunities may contact [email protected]
Throughout the territory…
Pathway Forward in Chicagoland
Prison Toy Program in Central Illinois and Iowa
I Went To Church In A Prison Part 1 in Missouri and Southern Illinois
I Went To Church In A Prison Part 2 in Missouri and Southern Illinois
Correctional Services in Kansas and Western Missouri
Articles on the Impact of Prison Ministry in Minnesota and North Dakota