The other night, I participated in a Bible study out at the Pine County Jail. The jail is about 10 minutes from my rural home and housed in a beautiful facility, the Pine County Government Center. Upon arrival, I wait in a large room with decorative steel benches, 2 inch thick glass separates visitors from staff and because we are there after hours, the blinds are closed to the administrative side. There is a definite echo in the long cinderblock hallways that lead to a secured classroom. At the entry point, there is a secure area where all our personal items are removed and locked up. We are allowed a Bible, notebook and pen.
I’m not in this alone, there are several others that volunteer to offer Bible study. From week to week, it’s a mix of volunteer men and women, some who have been attending for years. They are full of joy to be there, as is evident. Before each study, the leaders of the group pray for an anointing over the time they will have with the prisoners.
Each cellblock has their own one-hour session, we are there for two hours. Each inmate is patted down before he/she is allowed out of the cellblock and into the classroom and patted down again when they transported back to the cellblock. In the classroom, there are three rows of tables and chairs that face a large white board. The inmates sit facing the volunteers who also sit at tables; it’s a typical classroom setting. Bibles are provided for each inmate. Paperback NIV’s are the only translation that is available; most of the Bibles are rough looking and dog-eared; however, anyone that wants a Bible simply asks and a new Bible is presented to them. They can then take them back to their cells.
Bible study is a privilege in jail and is treated as such. The inmates are very respectful and most are quiet listeners; however, what charges me up when I am in this setting is when I see a man “leaning in” on what is being said. His head begins to nod in agreement or a smile slips through. His eyes begin to communicate, “I get that.” The study begins with prayer and then moves to a passage that an inmate has been reading. The Word is read aloud and insight is given to the passage. Questions are asked by both volunteers and inmates that facilitates a dialog.
Last night I was blessed when a young man asked if I was going to be back next week. I told him I would be and I asked him for his name and he told me; however, what happened next is that he began to weep. His friend explained that he missed the birth of his child that morning. I didn’t tell you this so you would pity him. I tell you this because I can see God moving into lostness. He moved into our lives because we needed a Rescuer that would not fail us, a Father that would not abandon us, and a Counselor that would comfort us when we were still captive to the things of this world.
Please pray for this outreach opportunity. Breakthrough Ministries has recently moved into the prison and correctional facilities of Minnesota. We do have advocates that are supporting our efforts to evangelize the lost in this segment of society. My hope and prayer here in Pine County is to make disciples who will make disciples within the walls of confinement, to make disciples that will walk in obedience, obeying the commands of Jesus no matter the consequence, regardless of the circumstances.
My hope is to offer a new discipleship program called Discovery Bible Study; it’s for those who are “leaning in” and being stirred by the Holy Spirit. This is an inductive study that they can have with other inmates in their cellblock during the week and then discussed with a facilitator later in the week. Please join me in prayer as I ask the Lord to reveal five new disciples with in the walls of the Pine County Jail.
Pete Couper, Breakthrough Ministries
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” Luke 4:18