Hallelujah: 33 Graduate From Prison To Become Pastors
The purpose of the prison system in most countries is often defeated and instead of reformation for the better, the prisoners end up becoming more hardened than they were before they went in. The prison is not meant to merely be a punishment center but also to help prisoners reform and be redeemed as up standing citizens of the society.
That is exactly what the Prison Fellowship is after. The organisation ia after helping inmates not to become repeat offenders but to be restored, redeemed and reconciled to their lives and relationships before prison. They help equip local churches with trained volunteers for the propagation of the gospel and also to nurture those who have been locked up.
They started a program tagged ‘Prisoners to Pastors’ to help former criminals redeem themselves an even though they are still behind bars to become church leaders and most likely continue to work as pastors after their release. The program only offers Christian and bible studies to inmates. According to reports, the program curriculum is said to be excellent for the inmates as it was developed by World Impact which is a successful urban missions organization designed to help students with limited education succeed.
The Prison Fellowship is privately funded and has professors from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as teachers in the program. The program has produced its first set of graduates totaling 33 inmates in what is believed to be the first ‘pastor inmates’ in Texas. A democrat from Houston, Senator John Whitmire, who heads the Chamber’s Criminal Justice Committee said that 185 more inmates are working toward getting college degrees in bible studies which also includes the 33 graduates. Whitmire said Texas is “still the toughest state in the union” when it comes to violent offenders, but that the program has helped to improve overall prisoner moral, and they have reduced cursing on the cell block and violent outbursts directed toward guards.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick believes the program would not have been possible “without the hand of God.” The Cristina Melton Crain Prison is the first prison in Texas to offer the program, but the program also operates Prison to Pastors in prisons in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Florida. The Prison Fellowship hopes to expand their reach to more facilities in the future.