By Pastor Daniel Atkins
Taylor Road Baptist Church, Montgomery
In 2016, Billy and Linda Arrighi joined our church. Billy had served in prison ministry for over a decade and soon began casting the vision of Taylor Road Baptist Church beginning a prison ministry.
Fast forward a couple of years and a team of four men from our church, including Billy and myself, began a monthly worship service and weekly Bible studies at Bullock County Correctional Facility.
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect out of prison ministry, but I knew God was calling me to be part of it. It didn’t take me long to fall in love.
Each month, I stood before men who were hungry for the word of God and who, for those two hours, seemed to forget they were incarcerated and worshipped in the freedom they had in Christ.
Quickly, the passion and excitement the four of us had for prison ministry spread to more people in our church.
In 2019, the Lord led us to We Care Prison Ministry Program, and through them our ministry increased to six more adult facilities and two juvenile facilities.
We had over 30 people trained and ready to begin ministry.
Then the unthinkable happened, and the world came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19. We had built up so much momentum and then nothing, or so we thought.
But God. An idea was born in our partnership with We Care to hold outdoor services at prisons.
We began pulling a flatbed trailer up to the prison yard fences, leading worship music and preaching at different facilities multiple times a week.
We were able to preach the gospel to more inmates than previously because all the inmates were in the yard for recreation as opposed to the 100 or so that chose to attend chapel service. I share all of this with you as a testimony to God’s work in our lives and in our church as we joined Him in His work behind prison bars.
God has birthed a love and a passion for prison ministry in my heart, and I have witnessed firsthand how contagious it has been for many other members of our church.
One church member in her late 80s prays for inmates by name every day and corresponds with them through letters. One man attended our first outdoor service and was so impacted that he raised more than $2,000 to buy a sound system.
One of the main things the Lord has taught me is that Jesus died for and has not forgotten the incarcerated.
So many of the men and women we have met over the last few years have shared with us they feel forgotten. For many of these men, their family, friends and society as a whole have indeed forgotten them.
While the world wants to forget them and they are just a number in the “system,” God knows their names. He hasn’t forgotten them, and His love for them drove Him to send His Son to the cross for them.
Fellow Alabama Baptists, if your church isn’t involved in prison ministry, I want to encourage you to pray about taking that step. Taylor Road’s prison ministry has impacted not only those behind bars but those within our church.
I, or others on our prison ministry team, would love to speak to you and your church about taking your next steps. I would also encourage you to reach out to We Care’s recruitment director, James Smoker (email@example.com), to find out how you can serve inmates in your area.
I will warn you, though, be prepared to get hooked!