April represented a continuation of the COVID lockdown in state prisons and jails, but that does not mean that our ministry is not in action. While volunteers are not yet able to enter the institutions, our main workers, the prisoners themselves, continue to minister among their fellow prisoners—men and women. This is the rock solid base of the Philippi Prison Ministry whose name is taken from the occasion that two prisoners in a Roman jail preached to all the prisoners and also won the jailer and his entire family to Christ. The best workers in jails and prisons are residents of those institutions and our ministry is to enlist them, train them, and then encourage them in every way possible from outside.
At the close of the month, I received a phone call from an ex-prisoner, Juan Reyes, who, upon his release, was taken to the border from where he headed straight for his home in a large town in the Central highland state of Guanajuato. It is an area where few American missionaries have ever visited and in which less than 1% of the population is Evangelical. He was very excited as he reported, “We are starting a new church here!” He also indicated that other prisoners saved in the Philippi prison ministry are gathered there. When he came into the ministry in the jail in McKinney, Texas, he had almost no knowledge of the Bible. The Bible has been his constant and faithful companion during his Texas imprisonment and he told me two or three times, “The Word is SO precious!”
COVID is an obstacle to Christian work, but one that is overcome on a daily basis in our ministry in as many as 100 prisons and jails. Crowded prisons cannot isolate prisoners from one another and God’s gospel work goes on and on.
Want to learn more about this ministry or how you can help? Contact Paul.Atkinson[at]texasbaptists.org.