Review: Effective Jail & Prison Ministry


I have no immediate urge to enter a prison for any reason; so why should I read a book on how to do a prison ministry?

My plans did not include receiving mail from prisoners, but things sometimes happen to us; things are thrown in our way and suddenly there are new challenges, circumstances, and problems; yes, experiences, opportunities, and growth.

Coincidental with finding myself corresponding with several inmates and becoming engrossed with their stories, I picked up a book I had recently received and began to read.

Before we review the book let’s answer the question: “Why?” — why do I need to read this book?

#1. If you think you know anything about prisons or prisoners, the first few paragraphs will knock the wind out of your sails.   #2. Consider the following scriptures: II Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting [furnishing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

We first learn scripture. This gives us knowledge to apply; but to what and how? It is necessary and helpful to know what a person’s problem is, before we can help. Most of our knowledge and ideas come from many sources, most of which are socially and politically correct, but fundamentally flawed. Someone once said “beware of the professional”; wise words, those.

My experience says, if you want to know, go not to the theoretician, professor, or pundit; go to the one doing the work and producing results. That’s what makes this book valuable. It’s written by many authors “in the trenches.” It dispels many of the misconceptions we hold; giving us fresh workable information on which to apply our knowledge and good works.

Now much of the “work” and effort we expend in this life will be fraught with failure, frustration, and error. But we learn from our mistakes. If, when we are “throughly furnished” and “edified,” we apply our great wisdom and works to a situation we don’t understand, it’s like applying a coat of paint to a sick dog. Stupid, yes, but either is at best useless and probably harmful.

The beauty of this book is that its principles and ideas are not limited to prison ministries, but tough addictions, family, fatherhood, power/control; it will humble you, enlighten you, and educate you. When you finish this book you are not done. You will have just begun. There are other books and materials you will want. They will be found throughout the book and in appendix “A” and “B.”

Please don’t misunderstand; Scripture is paramount, but misapplied scripture is a disaster waiting to happen. I hope this will lead us to consider history, circumstances, and experience before we go “where angels fear to tread.” If you would like a copy, please contact me. I have 40 available.   Happy reading!  For a free copy of Effective Jail And Prison Ministry For The 21st Century, by Dr. W. Thomas Beckner and Jeff Park, 198 pages, contact: Steven J Kieler, 2193 Sheker Drive, Fort Dodge IA 50501, E-mail, phone: 515-576-5743.