God At Work Through IM

Encouraging Christians in Jail

Encouraging Christians in Jail

Have you ever thought about how hard it is to be an incarcerated Christian? Yes, Christians commit crimes, too. 

Both women attending my jail Bible study recently brought up that they were appropriately jailed for theft. They expressed remorse. They also echoed the gratitude that I hear from many women in jail — for being in a safe, sober environment to heal and later re-enter “the outside” with tools to make better choices. 

These two women were faithfully trying to support and encourage one another in their Christian walks, despite many barriers. One of the women, Jill, had a life-long struggle with addiction. She knew that her abuse of alcohol and other drugs led her to jail instead of being available for her children. The other women in her bunk room also have addictions and frequently talk about happily anticipating reconnecting with their drug dealers, getting high and even prostituting themselves for more drugs. Hearing these conversations often “triggered” Jill into longing for alcohol and other drugs again rather than focusing on God’s grace and promises.

Kelli, the other woman at the Bible study, bunked between two women who verbally fought day and night. She was desperate for sleep, but no other bunks were available. Her anxiety worsened as she grew more tired. If Kelli asked the other women for some peace, they verbally abused or gossiped about her. Kelli found that suffering silently was safest.

Jill and Kelli attempted to do a brief devotion each night for their entire unit of the jail. Some of the inmates seemed interested and even participated in the prayer. Others openly mocked them and disrupted their few minutes of public worship and prayer.

Kelli asked me, “Do you know any passages about strength?” She probably hoped to hear how to be strong herself. Instead, the Holy Spirit plunked 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10 into my mind. I read portions aloud, “My (God’s) grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak. … I (Paul, the writer) am glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me.… When I am weak, I am strong” (NIRV).  Jill’s and Kelli’s eyes started to water with relief.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, we found that Psalm 18:1, “I love you LORD, You give me strength” (NIRV), was a passage for Kelli to repeat to herself when distressed with her quarreling bunk neighbors. As usual, our Bible study ended with grateful tears for God’s grace and comfort. I again left the jail spilling over with God’s joy.

Thank you for your interest and support in bringing comfort and encouragement to fellow Christians who are incarcerated in jail. please contact our office about becoming an IM volunteer.

Ministry Behind the Walls

Institutional Ministries is a nonprofit organization established in 1901 that carries out behind-the-walls ministry by shining the light of Jesus’ love into hearts.