UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON
Lack of Study Bibles - New believers in Christ need to have a Bible that best suites them. Some believers think that the only good Bible standard is the King James Version. What good is a Bible if you don't understand what you are reading? Other versions that have been approved by the Christian community such as the New International Version or the New American Standard are also the inspired Word of God and can be used more effectively since they are written in our present day English. These versions come as study or reference Bibles which really help the Christian prisoner because there is a lot of time for studying. Unfortunately, most Bibles given to inmates are the cheapest on the market and have no study helps in them. If family and friends don't get their friend or relative a good study Bible then he probably won't ever have one. It is important to ask him, 'How can I get a good study/reference Bible to you?' Most county jails will allow people from the outside to purchase a Bible and give it to a friend or relative in jail.
Also it is important to ask the Chaplain or one of the staff at the jail, if your friend or loved one will be able to take the Bible you buy for him from the county jail to the prison. When asking questions about the transfer from jail to prison it is a good practice not to ask the inmate because it could damage your relationship with him. Most Christians have high hopes of deliverance from jail and he would not like hearing that you think he is going to prison. Even though a good study Bible costs more money, remember that it is an investment into a person's eternal life.
Unanswered Questions - Having the right Bible to study will eliminate many questions that a new believer in Christ will have. New believers have questions, but a new believer in jail or prison has even more. If these questions are not answered correctly or at all, it can be devastating towards his spiritual growth. In jail, a person feels very alone and helpless. Help from family, friends and churches can provide good reference materials and mentoring to help answer these questions. Either by writing or visiting frequently, the new believer can get these questions answered and not feel so alone and helpless. It is very important to help the new believer in jail or prison to feel part of the Body of Christ as fast as possible so that he can build a good foundation of faith and feel secure in the family of God. The sooner the new believer feels that way, the faster he grows and becomes powerful in Christ and able to resist the evils of prison life. If there is too long of a gap of communication with questions left unanswered or skepticism from other believers on the outside, then the growth of the new inmate believer is easily flattened by the negative daily experiences and emotions of incarceration.
Anger and Hate - Nobody in jail is there for missing Sunday school! Most crimes that an inmate commits have to do with anger or hate issues. These issues can come back to haunt a new believer in Christ and stop their spiritual growth quickly because of the distractions that prison life puts on one's mind. How can a new Christian learn and understand love, joy, kindness and peace when all that is on his mind in prison is anger or hateful thoughts? In the county jail, many hours are spent just thinking and sleeping. It is easy for a person to lose the good thoughts and let the familiar bad thoughts of anger or hate start slipping back in again. God is able to take away the anger and hatred through much prayer and reading the Word of God. That's why encouragement from friends, family and churches can make the new believer aware of his need to pray hard and read much. Sanctification is a life long change. A new believer in jail or prison has deeper issues and problems than the average new Christian to overcome and this takes more time and support.
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