Prison Ministry

There are 2.3 million adult prisoners behind bars.  

The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, but almost 25% of the world’s prisoners.  
 
WHO
will bring them the good news of the Gospel and help break the chains of bondage?
 
Just as Isaiah was called and charged by God in Isaiah chapter 6, our Calvary Gospel Church Prison Ministry Team
 has responded to God’s call: “Here am I Lord, send me.”  
 
Jesbroken-chain_crossus breaks the chains of recidivism and spiritual bondage, and the Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry Team has accepted the call to go and serve the true “Chain Breaker,” ministering the Good News of the Gospel and the Word of God that sets the captive free. We stand faithful in believing: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”
 (John 8:36).
 
 
 
The Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry shares the same vision as Prison Fellowship Ministries. We believe that no life is beyond the reach of God’s power, and we envision a future in which countless prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families, are redeemed, restored, and reconciled through the love and truth of Jesus Christ. We seek to prepare Christian inmates to become leaders of their families, communities, and churches once they are released back into the community. We also endeavor to support inmates’ families, helping them become reconciled to God and one another through the power of the Gospel and supported by transformative relationships with a local church.
 
The Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry Team ministers to men and women at the Charles County Detention Center,
and exciting things are happening there.
 
Some of the services provided by our Ministry Team include: Bible study sessions, worship services, life skills training on practical topics and for reentry, Angel Tree gifts and mentoring for children of the incarcerated and their caretakers, letter writing to incarcerated parents of Angel Tree children, and after care needs.
 
Our Prison Ministry Team is always looking for new volunteers who have a heart for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). The process of volunteering is simple and quick, but candidates do need to fill out these three forms:
To volunteer at the Charles County Detention Center in LaPlata, Maryland, complete the three forms above and give them to Minister Rashida Betts, Prison Ministry Director, during church service any Sunday, or mail them to: Sergeant J. Palmer, P.O. Box  1690, La Plata, MD 20646.  You may also choose to fax them to Sergeant Palmer at 301-932-3079.  Volunteers must be church members, and they should make sure a witness signs in the spot marked for “witness” on the forms.  For more information, you may want to send an email message to Sergeant Palmer at: Palmerjs@ccso.us 
 
 
In addition to going into the detention center to minister, opportunities are available for Calvary Gospel Church members to volunteer in other ways.  Some are described below: 
 
1.  Inmates have expressed a need for more reading materials.  As a result, we have compiled a list of book titles and one magazine subscription that may be purchased and donated.  All of the books must be paperback editions, and most of the book titles may be purchased online at Amazon.com or other online providers.  After purchasing any of the titles, please bring the reading materials to Calvary Gospel Church, care of Minister Rashida Betts, Prison Ministry Director.  Minister Betts will hand deliver the reading materials to the detention center.  
 
To view the list of book titles and magazine subscription information, please click the link here: requested reading list
 
2.  There is a need for more life skills volunteers to train/teach at the detention center.  Topics suggested by the inmates include: exercise classes or sporting activities, yoga.  art classes, anger management, and reentry classes on topics such as how to interview, resume writing, parenting skills, building relationships, finances, job skills, and job opportunities for ex-inmates.  
 
Life skills volunteers may choose the topic, the day, and the time they would like to come to the detention center.  To volunteer as a life skills teacher, you must also complete the same 3 forms given above for all volunteers.  
 
3.  Our Ministry Team needs letter writers.  Each year, we provide dozens of Angel Tree Christmas gifts to children of the incarcerated and their caretakers.  Letters are written to each of the incarcerated parents thanking them for attending church services with their prison chaplain and adding the names of their children to that facility’s Angel Tree list.  As a result, many of the inmates write back, but there may be missed opportunities in responding to their letters with only one person doing the letter writing.  
 
Can you support us in this area of great need, letter writing?  If so, there is no need to fill out a volunteer form.  Just contact Minister Rashida Betts at prisonministry@calvarygospel.org.
 
4.  2.7 million children have a parent behind bars. Our Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry Team helps provide Angel Tree gifts to local children of the incarcerated each Christmas season.  These children struggle with the loneliness of living without their mom or dad not just at Christmas—but all year long.  Angel Tree mentors are needed for our Angel Tree children, and they live right here in Waldorf, White Plains, LaPlata, Indian Head, and other local areas.  
 
The children of inmates are at greater risk for a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems that too often lead to a criminal lifestyle. Going beyond the Angel Tree Christmas program, Angel Tree Mentoring matches vulnerable children with caring, Christian mentors who will point them toward Jesus and help them stay on course. Studies indicate that mentoring by a caring adult is the single most effective strategy for building character and curbing destructive behavior.
Christian mentors can improve the lives of prisoners’ children by:
  • Being an example of the love of Jesus Christ.
  • Improving young people’s attitudes towards their parents, peers and teachers.
  • Encouraging students to stay motivated and focused on their education.
  • Providing a positive way for young people to spend free time.
  • Helping young people face daily challenges.
  • Offering young people opportunities to consider new career paths and get much-needed economic skills and knowledge.
The mentor is not expected to be the child’s savior, therapist, surrogate parent, or peer. The mentor is meant to be a friend, a coach, a confidant, and a role model.
 
5. There is also a need for “in-prison” mentors who enter into correctional facilities to develop one-on-one relationships with prisoners. By modeling godly attitudes and behaviors, mentors prepare prisoners for transition back into their families, their churches, and their communities, demonstrating genuine care on the long-term road to transformation.
 
If you would like to volunteer as a mentor, please apply at the Prison Fellowship Ministry link here, or contact Minister Rashida Betts for more information at: prisonministry@calvarygospel.org  
 
6.  We would love to have an aftercare (reentry) ministry leader for our Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry Team.  
 
Joshua 1:8 reads:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”  
 
Reentry is tough. Two-thirds of released prisoners will be arrested again within three years.  
 
Every year, approximately 700,000 men and women are released from U.S. prisons. That’s the equivalent of about 2,000 ex-prisoners a day returning to communities across the country.
 

6 areas of needs_colorGoing home after being in prison is a very challenging transition for most newly-released prisoners, as well as their families and communities. Recidivism studies show that without intervention, two-thirds of those released will return to prison within three years. Prisoners often go back to prison not because they committed a crime, but because they violated parole.

To break this cycle, an effective reentry ministry must consider the needs in all areas of the returning citizen’s life: social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, environmental, and physical. Reentry team members connect prisoners with the resources they need to succeed—like addiction counseling, employment services, food, clothing, and housing. As ex-prisoners see their basic needs met, they gain a sense of security that helps them avoid criminal alternatives for good.

The aftercare (reentry) ministry leader would help develop and manage a team of volunteer mentors for the Calvary Gospel Prison Ministry Aftercare and Reentry Program.  Aftercare and reentry mentors are trained encouragers who help soon-to-be-released and recently released inmates of their same gender carry out a thoughtful plan for reentry into society, including full compliance with conditions of release, as well as reintegration into family, church, and community. 
 
As the ex-prisoner first engages with the significant challenges of reentry, the mentor provides a listening ear, encouragement, practical advice, and accountability. The healing and restoration of ex-prisoners is most effective when it takes place among a strong body of believers who are fully committed to demonstrating Christ’s love toward prodigal sons and daughters returning home.
 
If you are interested in being trained as a Calvary Gospel Church Prison Ministry aftercare and reentry ministry leader, please apply at the Prison Fellowship Ministry link here, or contact Minister Rashida Betts at: prisonministry@calvarygospel.org
 
If you are interested in being trained as a mentor to ex-prisoners, please apply at the Prison Fellowship Ministry link here, or click the link here if you are interested in being trained as a reentry mentor.
 
To Become a Certified Volunteer
If you feel a sense of mission to take the love and truth of Jesus Christ behind prison walls and help prisoners navigate the road to transformation, I encourage you to take the “next step” of starting the path to prison ministry volunteer certification.  Prison Fellowship Ministries will guide you through the application and training steps.  Just click the link here for the application and more information. 
We are helping to break the chains of recidivism and spiritual bondage.
 
We are at work behind prison bars, reaching men and women with the Gospel and transforming lives so that prisons release disciples of Jesus Christ — not repeat offenders. 
 
We are also at work beyond the prison walls, sharing the love of Jesus and the Word of God as we serve and support families of the incarcerated.
 
Thanks for your prayers and support for our work to glorify God and help build His kingdom.  
 
If you should have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding our ministry, please contact Minister Rashida Betts at prisonministry@calvarygosepl.org