Seeing hardened hearts changed by the power of Jesus Christ is always beautiful – and in one state an incredible transformation is happening throughout the prison system.
Twenty-four former criminals, some who will still spend the rest of their lives behind bars, walked across a stage to receive their diplomas – earning a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry.
And once you hear how these inmates plan to use their degrees, even behind bars, your heart will be moved deeply.
To start – being a prisoner is often lonely – and depressing – causing many prisoners to either turn away from Jesus and curse Him – or collapse into His loving arms.
Many prisoners have been shunned by family members, and know society either despises them, or has forgotten about them completely.
So much pain and heartache create a massive gap – providing an opportunity for the Gospel to reach these prisoners in real ways.
Twenty-four prisoners took the challenge to study Hebrew, Greek, Theology, Counseling, and many other subjects to earn their college degrees– and now they can minister to other hurting prisoners.
One of the graduates shared his heart and excitement for what he plans to do next.
Religion News Services reported:
“Kirston Marshall Angell, a 32-year-old inmate who graduated summa cum laude, said he was “ecstatic” and happy to head to a maximum-security prison in the western part of the state where he is expected to work with new inmates, ages 18-25, adjusting to life in prison for the first time.
“I’ve grown out of myself,’ said Angell, who is serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder. “I’ve learned to set myself aside and favor others. That’s what this program has called us to do.”
These graduates will be dispatched across North Carolina – to serve in one of the 55 prisons, ministering to the needs of other prisoners.
Seth Bible, director of the prison program, spoke on the importance of showing these prisoners the value they have to the program sponsors. Most importantly, he noted the intrinsic value they have simply by being created in the image of God.
Religion News Services continued:
“The opportunity, he said, can give inmates a new perspective. “The moment you begin to tell someone that they have value, first in the eyes of God and in your eyes as well.
And, then you tell them, not only do I think you have value, but the people who support this program think you have value — that, in itself, is transformative.”
Praise God these prisoners worked hard to earn their degrees – so they can use their talents to serve other inmates.
There are many prison ministries, working with inmates and their families to restore hope by meeting both tangible and spiritual needs.
Let’s continue to keep these 24 prisoners in our prayers – along with all ministries and individuals who support them.
Hopefully more prisoners will follow in their footsteps, demonstrating the tangible love of Jesus to those in pain.
Nobody is ever too far gone to receive the life-changing gift of God’s grace. Praise Him!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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