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


This manual is lovingly dedicated to those who inspired it. . .

The women at Central California Women’s Facility

and in memory of former death row inmate

Karla Faye Tucker

who went from Texas Death Row safely into the arms of Jesus

on February 3, 1998



This manual has been reviewed from several key perspectives:

            ∙          An institutional chaplain.

            ∙          A death row inmate.

            ∙          Religious volunteers ministering inside an institution.

            ∙          Volunteers corresponding and visiting one-on-one with inmates.

Special gratitude for assisting in editing portions of the original manuscript to Dr. Bob Schwarz, prison ministry director for the State of Colorado for the Full Gospel Business Mens' Fellowship International and chaplain of the CCC-DOC; and Catherine Thompson, a precious sister in the Lord incarcerated on California’s Death Row for Women.


Introduction   1
Objectives   3
One “You Came Unto Me”: The Biblical Mandate For Ministry 5
Two Qualifications And Preparation 11
Three Starting A Prison Ministry 17
Four Corresponding With Inmates 28
Five Visiting Inmates 32
Six Conducting Group Meetings 36
Seven Ministering To Inmate’s Families 44
Eight Ministering To Death Row Inmates 50
Nine Post-Prison Ministry 57
Ten Institutional And Inmate Typology 63
Eleven Dress And Safety Codes 69
Twelve Relating To Inmates 74
Thirteen Individualized Guidelines 82
Conclusion Conclusion: The Word Is Not Bound 83
Appendix One Dictionary 86
Appendix Two Scriptures Related To Prisoners 90
Appendix Three Ministry Resources 93
Answers Answers to Self-Tests 96



You hold in your hands the key to a great treasure box. Inside the box is gold, silver, and precious jewels. The box in which these treasures are contained is rather unusual--not really very appealing. It is surrounded by razor wire, electrified fences, and armed guard towers. But inside there is great treasure . . . men and women, precious to God, who are waiting for YOU.

The manual you hold in your hands--“You Came Unto Me”--is a training guide for jail and prison ministry. This manual provides instruction for every level of involvement:

            ∙          The minimal level of corresponding with an inmate.

            ∙          Visiting one-on-one with inmates.

            ∙          Ministering in group worship services, special programs, or Bible studies inside an institution.

            ∙          Assisting inmate’s families.

            ∙          Providing post-prison ministry upon an inmate’s release from a penal institution.

It includes instruction on dress and safety codes, institution and inmate typology, and how to relate to inmates in such a way that they will be attracted to the Gospel message and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

This manual is designed to be used as a training course for:

            ∙          Individuals who have a desire to get involved in jail and prison ministry.

            ∙          Churches who want to start jail and prison outreaches.

            ∙          Denominations desiring to involve their churches in such ministries.

            ∙          Bible colleges desiring to offer jail and prison ministry training to students.

            ∙          Chaplains who need a training tool for training their volunteers.

Each chapter includes instructional objectives to guide the learning experience and a self-test to measure individual progress. (Answers to self-tests are provided at the conclusion of the final chapter in this manual and may be removed by the instructor if they do not want students to have access to them.) The Appendices include a dictionary of prison-related terms, Scriptures related to prisoners, and a list of ministry resources.

Chapter Thirteen of this manual is an individualized section where a volunteer, church, Christian organization, or chaplain can insert training materials unique to their specific jail or prison--items like facility maps, rules, dress codes, forms, etc. If you are an instructor using this manual for a Bible college class, you may insert your own lecture notes or handouts in Chapter Thirteen.

            ∙          You are free to reproduce copies of this manual for the glory of God!


Upon conclusion of this training manual you will be able to:

            ∙          Provide references for the scriptural mandate for prison ministry.

            ∙          Explain why believers should be involved in prison ministry.

            ∙          Articulate the spiritual goals of jail and prison ministry.

            ∙          List the social goals of jail and prison ministry.

            ∙          Summarize what the Gospel has to offer prison inmates.

            ∙          Determine your role in prison ministry.

            ∙          Summarize the spiritual qualifications for a prison ministry worker.

            ∙          Identify four areas of preparation vital to effective prison ministry.

            ∙          Summarize the steps for starting a prison ministry.

            ∙          Identify various types of ministries which you might provide in an institution.

            ∙          Prepare and submit a proposal for prison ministry.

            ∙          Recruit and train volunteers.

            ∙          Explain how to get started corresponding with an inmate.

            ∙          Summarize guidelines for corresponding with inmates.

            ∙          Explain why personal visitation is an important ministry.

            ∙          Explain how to get involved in one-on-one visitation with inmates.

            ∙          Summarize guidelines for visiting individually with an inmate.

            ∙          Identify various group meetings that can be conducted in jails and prisons.

            ∙          Summarize guidelines for conducting group meetings.

            ∙          Explain why inmate’s families are often in crisis.

            ∙          Identify ways in which you can minister to inmate’s families.

            ∙          Summarize guidelines for ministering to inmate’s families.

            ∙          Explain how to start a ministry to death row inmates.

            ∙          Discuss guidelines for ministering to death row inmates.

            ∙          Explain how to help a death row inmate prepare to die.

            ∙          Identify common needs of ex-offenders.

            ∙          Describe types of post-prison ministries.

            ∙          List steps for starting a post-prison ministry.

            ∙          Determine your role in post-prison ministry.

            ∙          Demonstrate understanding of institutional security levels.

            ∙          Discuss differences between jails and prisons.

            ∙          Discuss common inmate typology.

            ∙          Explain how to deal with inmates who maintain their innocence.

            ∙          Describe dress codes applicable for all penal institutions.

            ∙          Summarize safety codes applicable for all penal institutions.

            ∙          Give guidelines for surviving a hostage incident.

            ∙          Explain the first rule for relating with inmates.

            ∙          Summarize guidelines for relating to inmates.

            ∙          Define a “setup,” explain how it occurs, and how to avoid it.

Treasures In Prison Cells

By Bill Yount

       It was late at night and I was tired. . .but about midnight, God spoke to me in my spirit and asked a question. . .
“Bill, where on earth does man keep his most priceless treasures and valuables?” I said “Lord, usually these treasures like gold, silver, diamonds and precious jewels are kept locked up somewhere out of sight, usually with guards and security to keep them under lock and key.”

God spoke. “Like man, My most valuable treasures on earth are also locked up.” Then I saw Jesus standing in front of seemingly thousands of prisons and jails. The Lord said, “They have almost been destroyed by the enemy, but these souls have the greatest potential to be used, and to bring forth glory to My name. Tell My people, I am going this hour to the prisons to activate the gifts and callings that lie dormant in these lives that were given before the foundation of the earth. Out from these walls will come forth a spiritual army that will have power to literally kick down the gates of Hell and overcome satanic powers that are holding many of My people bound in My own House.”

“Tell My people that great treasure is behind these walls, in these forgotten vessels. My people must come forth and touch these lives, for a mighty anointing will be unleashed upon them for future victory in My kingdom. They must be restored.”

Then I saw the Lord step up to the prison doors with a key. One key fit every lock and the gates began to open. I then heard and saw great explosions which sounded like dynamite going off behind the walls. It sounded like all-out spiritual warfare. Jesus turned and said, “Tell My people to go in now and pick up the spoil and rescue them.” Jesus then began walking in and touching inmates who were thronging Him. Many, being touched, instantly began to have a golden glow come over them. God spoke to me, “There's the gold!” Others had a silver glow around them. God said, “There's the silver!”

Like slow motion they began to grow into what appeared to be giant knights, armed warriors. They had on the armor of God and every piece was solid and pure gold! Even golden shields! When I saw the golden shields, I heard God say to these warriors, “Now go and take what Satan has taught you and use it against him. Go and pull down the strongholds coming against My Church.” The spiritual giants then started stepping over the prison walls with no one to resist them, and they went immediately to the very front line of the battle with the enemy. I saw them walk right past the church, and big-name ministers—known for their power with God—were surpassed by the giant warriors like David going after Goliath! They crossed the enemy's line and started delivering many of God's people from the clutches of Satan while demons trembled and fled out of sight at their presence. No one, not even the Church, seemed to know who these spiritual giants were or where they came from. They were restored to God's House and there was great victory and rejoicing. I also saw silver, precious treasures, and vessels being brought in. Beneath the gold and silver were the people that nobody knew: Rejects of society, street people, the outcasts, the poor and the despised. These were the treasures that were missing from His House.

Then the Lord said. “If My people want to know where they are needed, tell them they are needed in the streets, the hospitals, the missions, and the prisons. When they come there they will find Me and the next move of' My Spirit.”


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