Friday, September 30, 2016

Serving Prisoners in Pennsylvania

Former Juniata County Jail
Recently, I read in my Bloomsburg alumni magazine that four Pennsylvania institutions have been selected to participate in a pilot program called Second Chances Pell. The program will allow qualified inmates from seven different prisons to receive money to attend college. Each must be due for parole within five years. Research shows that prisoners who become educated during prison have a higher rate of not returning there. The colleges participating are Bloomsburg University, Indiana University, Lehigh Carbon Community College, and Villanova University.

Reading this fact made me think about prison ministry. My own venture into that arena Read More
happened 25 years ago. Prison Fellowship Ministries advertised for pen pals to write to prisoners. I decided to apply for one and received a pen pal who corresponded with me for 17 years. I found that at times her letters served as an encouragement to me when I was supposed to be encouraging her.

The second time I helped a prisoner, my husband became involved. A friend of ours approached us about offering a current prisoner at a local jail a job working on our current building project. When we agreed, we found our lives enriched by the chance we took.

One of my dear writer friends, Pat Parker, volunteered for an organization called Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS). Their main goal is to provide visitors to the unvisited at federal and military prisons. PVS asks for people to visit, talk, and listen to the prisoners, nothing else.

I met Gary Krabill as a fellow homeschool parent. He at one time served as a chaplain at our local prison and is now the Mifflin County prison chaplain. He is also the chaplain for a Juniata County Prison Ministry program called Under His Wings which provides temporary housing and a support system for released prisoners.

Venturing into prison ministry is something I don’t regret. I want to applaud the people and the institutions I’ve mentioned for reaching out to those in prison.

Pastor Krabill is currently looking for a godly male houseparent to serve at the transitional housing offered in Juniata County. Call him at 717-363-2167 if you are interested.

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13: 3

“I was in prison and you came to visit me … I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:36, 40

1 comment:

  1. Sandy, either I'd forgotten or I never knew that you had had these experiences with inmates. The college program sounds wonderful. These are the forgotten people in our society. Thank you for remembering them and posting this message.