CR Inside Newsletter

The blog for CR Inside. Much talk about all things CR Inside...

Prison Ministry… Why Bother?

From the Editor

Why indeed? For those of us who’ve participated in this ministry, we know the challenges of seeing folks struggle to make it in Step Study, struggle to complete their time, and struggle upon release. We’ve been discouraged by our brothers and sisters who volunteer with us who don’t stay committed. For many who don’t participate, it’s difficult to understand. Ninety years ago (March 1923) British mountain climber George Mallory was asked why he wanted to attempt to climb Mt Everest after failing to reach the summit twice before. “Because it’s there” was his reply, and that famous quote has gone on to represent many endeavors. On his fateful third attempt, as observers saw him get to within 1000 feet of the summit, he fell to his death; but we can also see, that he died trying. He never gave up.

In Philippians 4:14 Paul says, “I press on toward the goal…” and in verse 15 encourages us to do the same. And so, we continue to do what we do, “Because it’s there”; and for many, we feel blessed to serve, grateful for where God has brought us from, and hopeful for those whom we serve. How many times have you left the prison yard, or the jail, wondering who got more blessed? Yeah, I know that feeling. We don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor, but what a blessing when we do. Right now, I’m co-leading a step study at our church with a man who was a leader of two step studies inside.

This Spring, the movie Home Run was released nationally, but there were some who got to see advance screenings of the film. Some were at the Summit in 2012, others were CR leaders, pastors, and investors. You know who else saw it before the national release? Prisoners! That’s right, there were six yards across the country that got to screen the film, including Angola, in Louisiana, which, at one time was called “America’s bloodiest prison”. But Warden Burl Cain, about whom documentaries have been done, and books written (including “Cain’s Redemption” by Dennis Shere). Warden Cain has spearheaded a transformation of the yard at Angola, through faith initiatives and discipline. Here’s what he has to say about Home Run, “"We all live to a degree with what you see in "Home Run." It's how we deal with the adversity and what has happened in our lives or it will carry on into the next generation. We have to break the cycle. This is what we see in prison, we break the cycle. This movie helps us break the cycle."

Recently, I got to sit with two of the movie’s producers, Co-Executive Producer Carol Mathews, and Associate Producer Micah Barnard, to talk about the movie, and Micah’s experience going into Angola to screen the film. When one reads this interview, it’s easy to see why the film itself has such a tremendous impact on people…the vision and perspective of the producers, their love for God and for others comes through in this interview, and to a larger degree in the care with which they nurtured the film from its inception.