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'What Churches Should Be Doing': Opening Locations Inside Indiana Prisons and Rehabs, Reaching Inmates for Christ

05-28-2019
Prison Cell
Prison Cell

Megachurches across the country are catching a vision to reach prison and jail inmates for Christ. The latest example comes from Indiana where a church is reaching out to people who are incarcerated or struggling with addiction by opening "micro-site" campuses run by volunteers.

The Daily Journal reports Emmanuel Church, which has several campuses throughout the Indianapolis area, has opened new campuses inside the Johnson County Jail, Johnson County Community Corrections work-release center, and the Theodora House, a Volunteers of America women's recovery center.

Emmanuel members decided last year they wanted to concentrate their efforts to reach inmates and $28,000 was raised to help with their plan. 

"Emmanuel exists to see people come to Christ and grow with Christ," Rachel Long, executive pastor of multi-sites and families, told the Journal

Church members go to the three sites on Sundays and Wednesdays. They bring breakfast and coffee to the inmates and live stream the church services. They also have Bible study time included discussing that day's message. 

All equipment for live streaming is purchased and installed by the church. 

The Bible calls Christians to minister to people and bringing the message out beyond the walls of a church is what churches should be doing, church volunteer Rhonda Upchurch said.

"This is what the church is actually called to do," she told the Journal

So far, at least 15 people have come to Christ at the three new campuses since January, according to The Christian Post.  And several have reaffirmed their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Rachel Long, the executive pastor of multi-sites and a former developmental therapist told the CP, churches need to have the courage to reach out to inmates – by going inside.

"The way that we view it is that they can't come to Christ inside these dark places without someone having the courage to go in," Long said.

"Personally, it was very hard for me to go in. But what you learn is that these are beings that reflect God and that they were created in His image just the same way that we are. And you start to have a connection with them in a way that allows you to minister to them."

Long said the goal is not only to share the Good News with the people at these centers but also to provide them with a church community they know they will be welcomed at once they are released.

As CBN News reported, several churches are trying the on-site campus approach in state prisons.

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris announced his church's newest campus site is located inside the Lone Star state's largest prison.

The Gateway Church Coffield Prison Campus launched at the end of November last year with more than 300 in attendance. 

"At Gateway Church, we're all about people because God is all about people," Morris, the lead senior pastor of Gateway, told Fox News. "Many of the men and women inside prison have been forgotten by society, but we want them to know we love them and God loves them, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ."

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