Janis Brewer volunteers with Prison Fellowship Canada in the New Brunswick region. She recently shared about her prison ministry experience as a PFC Pen Pal and In-Prison volunteer.
“I first got involved in PFC’s prison ministry when a friend of mine encouraged me to be a volunteer to go inside the prisons. The first time I went, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I was going to react when I saw the men. I was nervous. But once we got started with the chapel service, God seemed to quiet my heart. I realized that they were not any different than other people. Though they may have made mistakes, they were still God’s children.
Currently, I write to two inmates through the Pen Pal program. I get really excited when the letters arrive. Inmates open their hearts in the letters and it gives me a chance to see how they’re feeling and what they are going through. Sometimes inmates get really discouraged about being away from their families. One of the inmates told me that he feels like his life dreams have been shattered by what he has done. I had a chance to tell him that if he just brings everything to God, He will forgive him for his past sins and give him a chance to have a home in heaven with him one day. I get the chance to regularly encourage the inmates through Scripture. Both inmates have indicated how much they look forward to receiving my letters and the peace they receive from the Scripture I’ve shared.
Being part of this ministry taught me how to be more compassionate. While I may not know exactly what the inmates have experienced but learning about their stories taught me that God loves all of us the same. We are no different in how God loves each of His children. As a Church, we need to learn to show compassion to others. Our love for people has to extend beyond those who are in our church. God’s commandment says to love God with all our heart and to love one another. We need to learn how to reach out and show God’s love in practical ways. We need to reach out to all who are broken and in need of hope.
I think Prison Fellowship Canada is a wonderful ministry. I would certainly encourage anyone to get involved. If people don’t feel comfortable going into the prison, you can still be a pen pal. Or, you can still help a child go to camp or provide a child with Christmas gift on behalf of the incarcerated parent. There is an opportunity for anybody who would like to get involved.”