After Care Ministry
This part of the ministry is very important in keeping the ex-inmate from backsliding, and could work together with family ministry for the inmate who is married, once he is released. Some inmates will have a residence to parole to and all their physical needs met, but they may be coming into an ungodly home. Each member of the local church can do their part by going out of their way to be a real brother or sister to all these new Christians returning home. It is discouraging to visit a church where the members don’t seem to care about strangers.
When someone gets out of prison there are many things they want to catch up on. Seeing old ‘friends’ is usually one of the first things they desire to do. If the church fills the void of friendship there may not be a need to seek out friends that may not be a Godly influence to this newly released person.
If put in the wrong situation, the ex-inmate might just think he is safe with these friends and it will not hurt to go out and have just one drink with them. That one drink might be the first step on their way back to the lifestyle that caused them to be locked up in the first place. If the church is there to befriend this person, this could be avoided. Rehoboth Jail & Prison Ministry wants to put the inmates in contact with local churches before they are released from prison.
It would be a wonderful blessing if a church member could pick the inmate up from prison or the bus stop and bring him home. This would show that they really want to be there for this ex-offender. If he has a way home it would be great to welcome him home with a short visit the first day he gets home. If his family is already involved with a church, this would be much easier to accomplish. Sometimes, whomever the ex-inmates sees first after his release has the most influence on him. It may say to him that these are the ones who really cared enough to come to see him.
Of course, you cannot spend every minute with the ex-inmate and eventually they will be approached by their old acquaintances. However, the initial contacts by the church when they first come home will always make a very strong impression in the lives of the newly released person and also his family that you are also ministering to.
Early on it would be great if the church visited the family a couple of times the first week, then see how the family responded. If it was a favorable response, then the next several weeks there could be contacts by various members to encourage the man and his family and see how they are adjusting. Later on these visits could be less often.
The ex-inmate will need a promise of a good job, in many cases, even before being released from prison. He will need to get to see his parole officer, and get his license restored. Whoever helps him with these things will have the most influence on him.
Let’s never forget the blessing of this ex-offender (and his family also) to the church to stir up the congregation to serve the Lord and not just sit in the pew. When a man who has been serving the Lord in prison is released, he is sometimes on fire for the Lord, much as when a Christian is first saved. To have that fire released into your congregation could bring alive some members who have become complacent..
May God richly bless you all!