In Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus gave us groups of people whom His followers should not neglect in their ministry for Him -- the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison. These people not only have urgent needs in their lives, but perhaps recognize their need for help more than those who are comfortable in life.
In prisons, we find many people who come out of broken backgrounds, and reproduce this brokenness by hurting themselves and others through addictions, uncontrolled anger, sexual lust, and greed. In some cases their loved ones and society have written them off to "rot in prison." Yet, God loves these broken ones, and desires to change their lives from the inside out.
Since 2010, we have coordinated a faith-based re-entry program called the RISE Program at Lexington Corrections Center. RISE stands for "Re-integrating Into Society Effectively". It is a 7-month program in which we present the Christian life as a positive way of life for these men to follow, in and outside of prison. We use mostly Christian curriculums like Authentic Manhood, Financial Peace, Navigators Life Issues, and Recovering From Life's Losses. So far we have had 40 men graduate from the program.
One of our current students recently shared his story. Ricky (not his real name) was raised by Christian parents, but got caught up in drugs and running with a wrong crowd as a teenager. By age 19 he was in prison serving a life sentence for murder. Ricky's past 30 years in prison have been filled with violence, smuggling, and extortion. When we met him he was angry, frustrated, and had lost all hope. Then this spring, Ricky applied for the RISE Program hoping to change his life. What he's found is a God who loves him, and other men who want to see God’s best for him. "I didn't care for a long time about my life, but now I'm starting to care about the way I live", he says. "I want to be a better person and to treat others with kindness and concern." God is there, and Ricky is beginning to find Him behind the prison walls.