You Came Unto Me

A Training Manual For Jail And Prison Ministry
Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” —Matthew 25:43



1.          . . . I was in prison, and you came to me. (Matthew 25:36)

2.         The main reference for the scriptural mandate for prison ministry is Matthew 25:31-40.

3.         Jesus is our greatest Biblical example for prison ministry.

4.         Eight reasons why believers should be involved in prison ministry are:

1. Prison ministry has a direct Scriptural mandate (Matthew 25:39-40).

          2. We should follow the example Christ set by ministering to prisoners.

          3. Prisons meet the criteria of any mission field: Lost people and a need for laborers.

4. God is not willing that any should perish

5. Chaplains cannot minister to more than a small percentage of inmates in their care.

6. Many jails and prisons have no professional chaplains and no religious services.

7. For every person incarcerated, there are three to five other people affected.

8. False religions and cults are reaching out to prisoners. We must get there first with the

                 Gospel of Jesus Christ!

5.         The spiritual goals of jail and prison ministry include the following:

            ∙          To share the unconditional love of God.

            ∙          To present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that inmates will embrace it and receive Christ as Savior.

            ∙          To disciple new believers in the Word and teach them how to study the Bible.

            ∙          To demonstrate the power of prayer and teach them to pray.

            ∙          To lead inmates to experience the life-changing power of God that will free them from guilt, shame, negative emotions, and addictions.

            ∙          To minister to inmates’ families.

6.         The social goals of jail and prison ministry include the following:

            ∙          To help the inmate function more positively within the prison environment.

            ∙          To provide a link between the community and persons confined in correctional institutions

            ∙          To prepare residents for re-entry into society (physically, mentally, morally and spiritually).

            ∙          To assist inmates families in practical ways.

            ∙          To provide post-prison assistance in practical ways.

7.         The Gospel offers inmates:

            ∙    Forgiveness from sin.

            ∙    A chance to say "I'm sorry."

            ∙    Release from guilt and shame.

            ∙    Acceptance.

            ∙    New values and perspectives.

            ∙    Strategies for coping with difficult situations and negative emotions

            ∙    Basics for true honest relationships.

            ∙    Life abundant through Jesus Christ.

            ∙    A new purpose for living.

            ∙    Eternal life.


1.          . . . be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

2.         Check your summary against the list of spiritual qualifications for a prison ministry volunteer discussed in this chapter.

3.         Four areas of preparation vital to effective prison ministry are:

            1. Prepare in prayer.

            2. Prepare in the Word.

            3. Prepare in your specific anointing.

            4. Prepare for the specific institution.


1.         But this is a people robbed and plundered; all of them are snared in holes, and they are hidden in prison houses; they are for prey, and no one delivers; for plunder, and no one says, “Restore!” (Isaiah 42:22)

2.         Compare your summary to the steps for starting a prison ministry discussed in this chapter.

3.         The various ministries which you might provide in an institution include:

                                                ∙    Conducting church services.

                                                ∙    Substituting for the chaplain.

                                                ∙    Providing special musical or dramatic programs.

                                                ∙    Conducting Bible studies.

                                                ∙    Teaching classes.

                                                ∙    Conducting a Christian group for those with addictions.

                                                ∙    Distributing literature and Bibles.

                                                ∙    Hosting a Christian film night.

                                                ∙    Providing individualized services. . .

                                                ∙    Providing Bible correspondence courses.

                                                ∙    Matching inmates with Christian visitors.

                                                ∙    Matching inmates with Christians to write to them.

                                                ∙    Providing referral information for families.

                                                ∙    Referring inmates to post-prison release programs.

4.         Some ways to recruit volunteers include:

            ∙          Put a notice in church bulletins.

            ∙          Make announcement in church services.

            ∙          Recruit at small group meetings.

            ∙          Prepare posters and place them in strategic locations in the church.

            ∙          Plan a “Prison Ministry Day."

5.         Compare your summary of training volunteers to the discussion in this chapter.


1.         These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)

2.         Two important things to do when you want to start corresponding with an inmate are:

            ∙          Contact the proper authorities at the institution.

            ∙          Obtain a list of the rules for corresponding with inmates at that specific prison.

3.         Compare your summary to the guidelines for corresponding with inmates discussed in this chapter.


1.         Remember the prisoners as if chained with them— those who are mistreated— since you yourselves are in the body also. (Hebrews 13:3)

2.         Personal visitation is an important ministry because:

            ∙          Every soul is valuable to God.

            ∙          Many inmates will not attend religious services.

            ∙          Many inmates have never experienced true, Godly, unconditional friendship.

            ∙          It is easier to open up in a personal rather than group setting.

            ∙          You become a bridge back into society for the inmate.

            ∙          You will not only be a blessing, but you will be blessed by a true friendship with an inmate.

3.         You can get involved in one-on-one visitation with inmates by the following ways:

            ∙          Inquire about the visitation program at the jail or prison where you want to volunteer.

            ∙          If the institution does not have an organized program for matching inmates and visitors, ask the chaplain or administrator to match you with an inmate.

            ∙          People who are ministering inside the prison on a group basis in religious programs are also a good source.

            ∙          If possible, exchange a few letters with the inmate prior to your first visit.

4.    Compare your summary to the guidelines given in this chapter for visiting individually with an inmate.


1.         But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

2.         Some types of group meetings that can be conducted in jails and prisons include:

            ∙     Worship services

            ∙     Bible studies

            ∙     Music classes

            ∙     Musical and dramatic presentations

            ∙     Christian writing

            ∙     Small groups offering a Christian approach to addiction and/or emotional problems

            ∙     Parenting classes

            ∙     Bible college courses

            ∙     Discipleship classes for new believers

3.    Compare your summary for each area to the guidelines given in this chapter.


1.    “. . .and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

2.    An inmate’s family is often in crisis because when a family member is arrested it creates great anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. The family is split apart. Children face shame and loss when a parent is in prison.

3.    You can minister to inmate’s families through the following ways:

            ∙     Transportation and hospitality

            ∙     Information

            ∙     Social services

            ∙     Employment

            ∙     Housing, food, clothing, and finances

            ∙     Counseling

            ∙     Presents on special occasions

            ∙     A church home

4.         Two important things you must do before contacting an inmate’s family are:

            1.    Check with the chaplain or administration at the jail or prison where you are ministering.

            2.    Obtain written permission from the inmate so the family and institution knows you have his/her approval.

5.         Compare your summary to the guidelines given in this chapter for ministering to inmate’s families.


1.     Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die. (Psalms 79:11)

2.    Compare your summary to the suggestions given in this chapter on how to start a death row ministry.

3.    Compare your discussion to the guidelines given in this chapter for ministering to death row inmates.

4.    You can help a death row inmate face death in the following ways:

                        ∙    Is there someone they need to forgive? Guide them in the process.

                        ∙    Are there those to whom he needs to apologize and seek forgiveness— victims, their families, his own family or friends?

                        ∙    If they have young children, encourage them to write a special letter to the child to be given to them when they are older.

                        ∙    Do they have any practical business matters that need to be concluded?

                        ∙    Discuss death openly, and the fact that as a believer, there is nothing to fear.

                        ∙    Help them focus on eternity and the tremendous things that await in Heaven.

                        ∙    If they ask you to be present at their death to provide spiritual support, do so if the prison permits it.


1.       . . .To open blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7)

2.         Some of common needs of ex-offenders are:

            ∙     He needs to be accepted in a local church that is nurturing and supportive so he can develop spiritually.

            ∙     He needs housing, food, and clothing.

            ∙     He needs vocational training and/or a job.

            ∙     He may need financial counseling.

            ∙     Family counseling is important if he is trying to reunite his family.

            ∙     He may need additional personal counseling for addictions like drugs and alcohol.

            ∙     If he has been incarcerated for a long time, he may need assistance with even simple decisions.

             ∙     He needs a strong support network of friends who will love and accept him, pray for and with him, and help him work through problems.

3.         Post-prison ministries include:

            ∙     A Christian “half way house”

            ∙     The local rescue mission

            ∙     Government or privately operated programs

            ∙     Church based programs

            ∙     Christian colleges and Bible schools

4.         The steps for starting a post-prison ministry are:

            Step One: Pray

            Step Two: Consult your spiritual leader

            Step Three: Do an analysis

            Step Four: Visit a similar ministry

            Step Five: Determine organizational issues

            ∙          Funding

            ∙          Facilities

            ∙          Staffing

5.         The three questions that should determine your role in post-prison ministry are:

            1.    What is permitted by the institution in which you minister?

            2.    Where are you most effective?

            3.    What are your time and energy limitations?


1.       The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. . . (Isaiah 61:1)

2.       The common security levels are maximum, medium, minimum.

3.       Prison inmates have been tried and convicted. Jail is usually the entry point for all prisoners. Many jail inmates haven't been convicted of anything yet. Prison population is relatively stable. Jail population is very transient. Some prisons have at least a minimum of facilities and programs for counseling and rehabilitation, but most jails have few or none. Prisons usually have better facilities for group meetings such as church services and group Bible studies. The physical, emotional, and psychological conditions of jail inmates are different from and less favorable than those in prisons.

4.       Some other facilities of confinement discussed in this chapter are:

            ∙   Work release centers

            ∙   Halfway house

            ∙   Road camp, fire camp, forestry camp, or work farm

            ∙   Detention, juvenile hall, or reformatory

5.       Compare your summary to the discussion on inmate typology in this chapter.


1.       Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Romans 13:1).

2.       Compare your answer to the discussion on appropriate dress codes in this chapter.

3.       Compare your summary of safety codes to the discussion in this chapter.

4.       Compare your summary to the guidelines given in this chapter for surviving a hostage incident.

5.       Be sure to obtain a list of the dress and safety codes for the institution in which you are visiting or ministering. Insert these in the final section (Chapter Thirteen) of this manual which is designed for material unique to your specific institution.


1.       . . .in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

2.       The first rule for properly relating with inmates is learn and follow the rules.

3.       Compare your summary to the guidelines for relating to inmates given in this chapter.

4.       A setup is a situation where you are forced into compromising your own beliefs, standards, or institutional rules. You are forced or tricked into a compromising situation, and then taken advantage of by an inmate to receive favors or contraband like drugs, alcohol, etc.

5.       A setup usually proceeds as follows:

Observation: Inmates first observe your ability or inability to function under stress, your level of tolerance, whether or not you adhere to rules, and how effectively you will take command in a difficult situation.

Testing: Before any conclusions can be drawn, inmates test their assumptions about you by such things as unauthorized requests for supplies and materials, asking for favors, circumventing rules, preying on sympathy, or attempting to engage you in intimate

conversations. If you yield in these “minor areas,” then you are a prime candidate for a setup.

The Setup: If you compromise minor rules or engage in intimate or inappropriate behavior, then an inmate sets you up by using this as a lever to get what they actually wanted all along.

6.         You can avoid a setup by:

            1. Maintaining a professional attitude

            2. Avoiding familiarity

            3. Refusing to violate rules under any circumstance

            4. Immediately reporting a setup attempt


Individualized chapter. No self-test.