UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON

55

Chapter 15

FUTURE PLANNING

 

Hopefully, through the previous chapters, it has been clear that a Christian in prison has many unique and unusual experiences that need explaining in order to minister to him. It is my hope that you have a new understanding and ideas of how you can help your loved one in prison. Likewise, the future of your loved one needs attention and planning. It is very important to inmates to have plans and dreams of what we will do when we are released. Hope is a powerful motivator not only in prison but out as well. The more thought and detail that goes into planning his future, the better he will do upon release.

Living in a fast paced world is hard enough for the well adjusted, financially stable, normal life. Trying to plan where there is much uncertainty is challenging to say the least. There are several different areas in which your loved one should start to prepare his future plans. The first one is to develop a plan to continue his relationship with God in the outside world and have a strong connection immediately with a church and the Christian community. This not only helps to overcome temptations but also will provide accountability and fellowship. It is important to acknowledge that your friend or loved one will be faced with many of the temptations that affected his behavior before. Acknowledging this area of weakness is critical and of most importance so that such temptations can be deliberately avoided and accountability with others can be put into effect as check points. Small groups or Bible study groups are of most importance.

Daily Bible reading and prayer provide the strength and closeness to God to overcome any negative thoughts or feelings. If these arenít maintained in a very disciplined way, even the best plan will fail. Fellowship with God will give daily understanding, comfort, and self control. The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer and provides these fruits Ė love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Read the last one again! Yes, self-control!! He is the provider.

As far as choosing a good church, probably your friend or loved one will choose to go to your church with you initially. This is a good start, especially for the first year or so. As he grows in Christ and less accountability is needed, he may choose to visit other churches or not. Whatever church he attends it is important that he feels like it is his church. Some choose to stay at the same church if it fits their needs while others decide to go to another. What is important is that your loved one or friend is in a church that provides support through small groups and where he can grow stronger and stronger spiritually. Involvement in ministry service is important as soon as possible too. Be careful not to let your pride interfere in his decision, so that your relationship will stay strong no matter what.  Hurt feelings can be a terrible distraction  after a prison transition.

The second step to consider is your loved oneís place to live and environment. Some may have a home to go to, but most do not. Many come from broken homes and donít have family or friends that would take them in and help them get started again. A good home is important. Some may leave prison and end up in a halfway house or cheap pay by the week hotel. Many of these places put the Christian inmate back in an environment of temptation or negative thinking and bad habits again. If an inmate has a problem with drinking alcohol, then the future plans should not include an environment that is near a bar or with friends that drink, etc. The less temptation there is in the environment the stronger a released inmate can grow in resisting it and thus have a good future.

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