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GOD BEHIND BARS MINISTRY

This ministry brings the Life Fellowship Sunday Service & LifeGroups into prisons to help lead men and women to a growing relationship with Christ.

Matthew 25:35-40 ESV

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Common Questions

I’VE NEVER BEEN INSIDE A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY—WHAT’S IT LIKE?

We typically conduct our church services and LifeGroups in the facilities gym. The inmates who attend our services are generally as excited as we are to attend church and meet greet one another.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHERE I WANT TO SERVE?

Share the the LF GBB Leadership team if you are having trouble deciding which facility to be apart of.

CAN MEN VOLUNTEER IN THE WOMEN’S PRISON? CAN WOMEN VOLUNTEER IN THE MEN’S PRISON?

Yes, men and women can both serve inside the opposite gender’s facilities, just not lead the opposite gender’s LifeGroup. Learning more about how we can treat each other as brother/sisters in Christ to the opposite gender can provide a lot of growth to those we are ministering to.

HOW MUCH TIME WILL BE REQUIRED TO SERVE ON A SUNDAY OR IN A SMALL GROUP?

Most volunteers serve about once a month. Serving in both the Parchman (Men's) and Henning (Women's) Facilites take about 7 hours on a Sunday. The Henning Women's Team Shuttles in a 15 passenger van from the Southaven Campus around 10 AM and returns about 5 PM. The Parchman Team, shuttles in a 15 passenger van from the Southaven Campus around 12 PM and returns around 7 PM.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I GET TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY? WILL I BE SEARCHED?

When our teams arrive at the correctional facility, we generally sign, turn in our driver’s licenses and walk through a metal detector. An officer may pat each person down in a gender appropriate manner. We always walk in the gym for service, together as a team and are escorted correctional staff.

WHAT CAN I TAKE INSIDE THE PRISON WITH ME? CAN I TAKE WATER, SNACKS OR MEDICINE?

On Training Day, the DOC trainer will go over all the rules pertaining to ministering inside a correctional facility. Primarily, we only take in the material that is used for the Sunday Worship Service or LifeGroups. All materials must be pre-approved DOC. We are not allowed to take gum, food, drinks, iPods or electronic devices into the prison without prior approval. If you must have medication with you, you will have to leave it with the gate security and come out of the facility to access it if needed.

HOW DO I TRAVEL TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES? WILL THERE BE SOMEONE I CAN RIDE WITH?

Depending on where and when you serve, you can ride on the church van or carpool with other team members.

WHAT TYPE OF A COMMITMENT IS REQUIRED? WHAT IF I CAN’T MAKE IT TO A MEETING?

One of the most important factors in correctional ministry is consistency and faithfulness in our commitment. We schedule our Sunday service volunteers to serve about once a month. For LifeGroups volunteers we ask that you as often as possible during the semester. Every serve opportunity is team-driven, so if you are unable to make a commitment, we always have enough team members to conduct the service without interruption.

CAN I TAKE A SMALL GIFT TO THE INMATES, SUCH AS GUM, MINTS, PENS, SNACKS, MONEY, BIBLE, ETC?

It is easy to become very fond of the inmates and feel compassionate toward their plight. The DOC policies do not allow ministry volunteers to give anything to an inmate that isn’t previously approved. As a ministry, we have been approved to take certain items in to our services that are available to every inmate. Nothing can be given to, or taken from, an inmate at any time that hasn’t been approved by LF GBB leadership and DOC.

CAN I WRITE TO THE INMATES I’VE MET IN BETWEEN MY VISITS?

The DOC policies state that volunteers, who physically minister inside a correctional facility, are not allowed to visit, write or give money to an inmate. Nor may a volunteer associate with an inmate’s family members. If you feel called to play a different ministry role, just let us know and we will gladly help you in anyway that we can.

AN INMATE DOESN’T HAVE MONEY TO SEND A LETTER OR TO CALL HIS/HER FAMILY. MAY I CALL THE FAMILY MEMBER AND CONVEY A MESSAGE?

We are not permitted to contact anyone on behalf of an inmate. Many times inmates attempt to persuade a volunteer to convey a message that is actually a coded message that they do not want the DOC to intercept through mail or a phone conversation. Conveying such a message could implicate you in criminal activity and cause you and/or this ministry to be banned from entering the facility.

CAN I GIVE AN INMATE MY PHONE NUMBER OR ADDRESS SO HE/SHE CAN CONTACT ME?

Under no circumstances are we allowed to provide personal information to an inmate. If an inmate needs to send something, have him/her send it to the Southaven Campus attention to GBB. We are not allowed to develop a pen pal relationship with an inmate if we are ministering inside the facilities.