One of the most successful prison ministries in Florida State history began in 2007 when a group called Kairos Prison Ministry made weekend visits to one of the highest-level security prisons in the state. John had the privilege of ministering to those inmates over several weekends. Sharing Christ with those incarcerated is one of the many banners John has been called to carry. A former detainee himself, John accepted the saving message of Jesus in solitary confinement. He has released his full testimony about the miraculous journey of coming to know the Lord. You can watch it here: Lost and Found
John enjoyed visiting the prisoners so much it was easy to obey the LORD when he told him to make that a regular part of his life. He quickly got certified as a volunteer chaplain and, on his very first official visit, was handed the keys to the chapel by the full-time Chaplain. The man was going on vacation and put John in charge. The problem was, that man never returned. This was no problem for John. He took the opportunity to launch new initiatives for the small community of Christian inmates, such as Evangelism Explosion training, and a leadership bootcamp he called “Repairers of the Breach.”
John recognized that conflict and unforgiveness were two of the main reasons the men had trouble working together. John needed them to band together or they would never see their purpose and value in life – even behind bars. Once he taught them to work out their issues and bridge their differences in a godly way, the Lord began to build community. Within a year the small fellowship of believers grew exponentially. There were nightly prayer meetings in the cell blocks. Groups were evangelizing unbelievers in the yard. A worship band was formed and consistent church services were held weekly. The men found ways to tithe by donating goods like socks, deodorant, soap, and even a coveted chicken dinner they got only once a week was given on occasion. These goods were dispersed to those in need and the church grew a reputation as being a place of refuge.
Word of the miraculous change over the men of this prison, formerly known as one of the most violent in the State, got to higher ups. Before the LORD directed John and his family to leave the United States to serve in the foreign mission field, several ministries were established to elevate the work even higher. A State Legislator working closely with New Orleans Theological Seminary brought an accredited college program to the prison. 50 of the inmates, many of whom were men John personally discipled, were enrolled in the program. 48 completed the four-year baccalaureate program.
God Behind Bars and Malachi Dads were established as well. The success of these ministries collaborating has resulted in a complete transformation of this prison and established a model the entire State of Florida is seeking to emulate. Today, numerous men discipled in this prison have finished their sentences and continue to work in ministry in the free world. Others have returned to minister to their “brothers in blue”. Still many others will never be released, but know they are “free inside” and have the joy and purpose of continuing to disciple others. In fact, the State of Florida has since created an “inmate minister” classification and are sending many men discipled at this prison out as missionaries to other prisons. This has never been done before and shouts of the favor and mercy of God.
Since moving to South East Asia in 2018, John has felt a little homesick. Not for America or a good hamburger, but for the level of ministry he had with those prisoners. There is something super special about being used by God to spark hope in the hearts of people who are trapped in extremely dark and dangerous places… at least John thinks so. There is no comparison to the joy found in watching a spark of hope bring life to the eyes of a dead man… and then watch that spark catch fire and burn for the LORD with the same fervency they used to serve darkness.
For more than four years, John consistently sought God for opportunity to begin international prison ministry. In 2022, the LORD answered and has now opened numerous doors into prison ministry in several countries. This is very uncommon for a westerner to be allowed the level of access we are experiencing. Praise the LORD for giving such amazing grace for us to bring light into the darkest of places.
Please pray for more opportunities to witness and disciple prisoners with little to no chance of learning they are loved by a gracious God and He has not forgotten them. We are in the process of developing evangelical material that speaks to the heart of the prisoner. The biggest challenge will be to contextualize it to be culturally relevant, accurate to God’s word, and translated well into their language. Please keep us in your prayers and consider supporting our efforts with a personal donation to our ministry if led.
Children of Prisoner’s
When a person convicted of a serious crime is put in prison for a long time, we feel for the victims and hope the prisoner will learn their lesson. But oftentimes a prisoner’s family is overlooked. What happens when a parent is incarcerated?
Children can’t fend for themselves and have to live in a reality they did not create. Where single parent households are the norm, grandparents or other relatives become burdened with raising the child of a prisoner.
Most countries in Asia have very little in the way of social services. So, when a parent of young children goes to prison there is no one to provide for children or older parents. Without intervention or support, these children likely turn to crime themselves and the cycle repeats.
Jesus Christ wants his church to stand in the gap and rescue these children from the clutches of sin and death.
Along with sharing the hope of the gospel, Hope to Share is committed to providing tangible help to children in crisis by providing scholarships to qualifying families to cover school fees, uniforms, supplies, and other costs associated with educating the children of prisoners.
These scholarships are administered in partnership with local churches who are spiritually investing in these families.
Thank you for standing with us. Your support will change the trajectory of a child’s life by providing practical help along with spiritual investment.