Jesus came to set the captives free. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
People in America are fed up with the rampant crime. As a culture, we have abandoned the Bible. We are reaping the consequences.
On one of my trips to speak at a conference, I was visiting with another airline passenger. I told the person about Southwest Radio Church and mentioned our prison outreach ministry. His response was: “Those people in prison belong in prison. They are criminals. Why do you have a ministry to them?”
I explained that we are not seeking to exonerate criminals, nor are we soft on crime. However, I am reminded that Jesus died for criminals, as well as for their victims.
In fact, some people have been raised in very confusing, soul-destroying circumstances. None of that excuses a criminal from incarceration, but it does help explain why people behave the way they do. And I shared with this airline passenger an important thought that has personally helped me behave in a way that demonstrates the grace of God: “People need love the most when they deserve it the least.”
Jesus spoke to the penitent malefactor and said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
But there is another reason for our prison ministry. Many of the men and women who are incarcerated have relatives and loved ones. Some have mothers and fathers. Some have wives and husbands and children. These loved ones are grieved that their family member is in prison. “What is going to happen to my son in prison? Will he be bitter? Will she become a hardened criminal?”
Brother Noah Hutchings had the idea to minister to those in prison after receiving letters from prisoners who had heard us on the radio. He called it the “Onesimus Project,” referring to the story of fugitive slave Onesimus in Paul’s letter to Philemon. While Paul was in jail in Rome, he led Onesimus to the Lord. This is the heart of our prison ministry.
Prisoners need encouragement. I used to serve as a volunteer chaplain with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. American prisons are the best in the world, but I can tell you, being in prison is confinement.
“We receive letters weekly from inmates who ask us to pray for them because they are lonely,” says SWRC Staff Evangelist Josh Davis, who is SWRC’s main liaison with inmates. “Some are battling depression and struggling with isolation. We hear stories from inmates who have no family or friends to contact. They tell us this ministry helps them trust Jesus through the dark valleys they are facing.”
Southwest Radio Church receives and answers prayer requests from inmates. We send prisoners a Bible and the book, A Christian’s Guide to Prison Survival. We also send our newsletter and include other resources to prisoners – all free of charge, and of course, we pay the postage.
If you would like to be part of this mission, please send your gifts to Onesimus Prison Ministry, SWRC, P.O. Box 76834, Oklahoma City, OK 73147 or email email@example.com with questions about Onesimus.