—by Keith Jacobson, CCC deacon
A friend of mine from high school, Joe, is currently incarcerated and will be for some time to come. I have been corresponding with him for several years and consistently find myself encouraged by his faith in Christ. His walk with the Lord has helped me to see more clearly that I cannot earn the love of God, and that Jesus Christ is Redeemer and King. Joe daily faces the challenges which are unique to those living in prison and I have been convicted, humbled, and excited to hear of how God moves and works in his life.
Christ Community Church is currently collecting book donations for Christian Libraries International. So I thought I'd ask my friend for a few words on how these donations can be used in a practical sense.
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I was recently asked by an old high school friend to shed a bit of light on a very real need that exists in our correctional institutions, and being as I am currently living in such an institution, I guess I would be the very definition of a resident expert.
There are a variety of educational, behavioral, and religious programs that are made available to inmates in prison. While the idea of providing these services is rich in good intention, it is equally poor in funding. The unfortunate reality is that in the race for funds, religious programs generally come in last. The facility must be unbiased in its support of all denominations, so what funds are available must be parsed out.
In most facilities the Gideons donate Bibles, and Our Daily Bread Ministries donates devotional booklets for which we are truly grateful.
One area in which there is a void are the subjects of discipleship and spiritual leadership. While there are men of God who come in and minister to us and teach the word, we also have weekly services which are facilitated by we inmates. I also asked a few other men what they feel might be missing. The most mentioned subjects were as follows:
Early church history
Copies of sermons
Spiritual study guides on any topic
Missionary life stories
How to be a spiritual leader and teacher
Dealing with the Guilt of past wrongs
Books on these and any other spiritual topics would be invaluable, especially to those without the financial means to purchase such materials.
Donations from churches and religious organizations are vital to the spiritual education of the men and women in our nation who live behind bars. Fresh material with new perspectives breathes life into our services. If God leads you to organize a donation it will be greatly appreciated.
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CCC members have already donated an impressive collection of books and we look forward to delivering them to CLI in the coming weeks. While the formal book drive will soon be over, please feel free to bring in books at any time throughout the year. Just make one of the deacons aware and we'll be sure they are delivered to CLI.