PMA Team Behind Walls
THE VISION OF THE PRISON TEAM
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Prov. 29:18a)
The vision for our team is for us to be effective in our services. This vision includes a desire for men and women to be raised up in our ministry to effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have great potential, but it requires discipline in our personal and our lives spiritual lives. We must be prepared and equipped in the Word of God and be trained to effectively communicate to the inmates. In order to do this, we must be ready before we enter an institution with our testimonies and our sharing. This outline will help you in being prepared for a service. Remember, we have the potential to be used very powerfully by God. We can become a very dynamic team for Him to use!
YOUR ROLE IN THE SERVICE
“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:17)
The main focus of the team going in is to give the inmates moral support and encouragement. As you sit in the service, intercede for the inmates that the Lord puts upon your heart as those who are speaking, sharing and singing during the service. Be available before and after the service to pray and share the Word of God with the inmates.
STRUCTURE OF THE SERVICE
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40)
This is a brief outline of the structure of a service in an institution:
- Open in prayer
- Special Music
- Teaching of the Word
Prayer: We always begin the service with prayer, welcoming all the inmates to the service. This person will also introduce our team, saying where we are from and introduce everyone on the team. When you are introduced, remember to smile and raise your hand so the inmates can see who you are.
Worship: The worship leader will then come up to sing songs with the inmates. Prior to singing, our team leader has already shared with him/her how many songs to sing.
Special Music: The next person to usually come up is the singer, who will share 2-3 songs that will encourage and strengthen the inmates. Prior to going up, our team leader has shared how many songs will be sung.
Testimonies/Sharing: Prior to the service, the team leader will as who is open to sharing their testimony. If you are called upon you will have between 3-5 minutes to share your testimony or to share a scripture. (More will be written below on how to say your testimony and how to effectively share.) Remember to stay within the time limit that the team leader gives you so that there is enough time for the Word of God to be taught.
Teaching of the Word: The focus of the service is to be the Word of God. One person will be responsible for teaching the Word during a service. Prior to service, if the team leader is not going to teach, then he will ask one of the team members to teach. When the Word is being taught, there should be no talking or moving around by neither the inmates nor the team members.
- Begin and end the service on time. The facility has a time schedule to go by and we must adhere to their schedule.
- Volunteer I.D. passes that are issued out must be worn at all times and must be visible from the chest up.
- Most institutions have a "no hostage policy" which means that if you are taken as a hostage, the state will not bargain for your life.
- During a lock down of the prison or a hostage siege everyone in the group is to remain calm and to follow all orders of the institution. The group should not be walking around during these times, but should remain where they are until otherwise notified.
- Volunteers are not to hug nor kiss any inmates. Handshakes are allowed in some institutions, but not all of them. If you are not sure, ask your leader.
- Do not run in an institution for any reason. They will think you are trying to escape!
- Do not put down or criticize any religion or religious denomination.
Do's & Don'ts
- Bring in a valid California Driver's License or California photo ID.
- Bring your Bible and be open to pray or counsel an inmate.
- Dress with appropriate taste (see below for more information).
- Be on time for the Prison. Call if you are running late.
- Follow the Chaplain's instructions or the team leader's instructions.
- Follow all rules and regulations of the institution you are going into.
*IF you are not sure of a policy -- ASK THE TEAM LEADER
- Use common sense. Be cautious, calm, and in control of yourself.
- Wear the following items:
- No blue, white or colored jeans
- No shirts that have been cut or torn
- No thongs or sandals with open toes
- No shorts
- No blue, white or colored jeans/skirts
- No shirts that have been cut or torn
- No thongs or sandals with open toes
- No shorts or koulots
- No low cut or V-necked blouses
- No tight knit stretch pants or tight pants
- No skirts/ dresses above knee length - (They rise up when you sit down)
- No wired bras - (They set off metal detector)
- Don't wear to much jewelry.
- Bring in any type of brief case, purse, back pack or waist pouch.
- Bring in any medication, gum or candy.
- Bring in anything or anyone that has not been cleared to the institution. *Check with your leader if you are not sure it is cleared.
- Give out your address or phone number to any inmate -- NO EXCEPTIONS
- Receive anything from an inmate -- address, phone number or a gift.
- Make a commitment of any type to any inmates.
CONDUCT IN SERVICE
- Greet and welcome the inmates to the service if contact is allowed. Remember to be friendly and be yourself.
- Make sure you can be seen at all times by your leader. Do not wander away from the group. If you are not sure what your boundaries are, ask your leader.
- The men are to make sure that the women are never left alone in a men's facility. If you see a sister by herself talking with a male inmate or inmates, walk over there and stay close by her. Sisters, do not put yourself in that kind of a situation. You need to make sure you are always around a brother.
- During the service do not talk to each other, pass anything out, nor get up because it draws attention away from whoever is speaking or sharing at that moment.
- Be prepared before the service to share part of your testimony (about 3-5 min.). Be specific and focused on what you want to share. You may be called on to share or you may not--but be ready either way. The most important thing to remember is to be prepared before the service and not try to put something together right before or during the service. Remember no putting down other religions.
- When the leader says it is time to go, everyone in the group must be ready to go. Prayers or conversations must be stopped at that time. Remember that we are under institutional policies and we must begin and end on time.
PERPARATION FOR TESTIMONY
The important thing to remember is that your testimony and your sharing are not to be teaching messages. You need to stay within the time limit given to you so that the Word of God will not be cut out. If you are not ready to share or give your testimony, then wait for awhile until you feel comfortable and ready to do so. Sharing: Sharing is different from giving your testimony and is neither teaching nor preaching. Sharing is when you share what God has shown you in your life. Reading a scripture and then sharing how God ministered to you with that scripture is what sharing is all about. Be careful not to share your personal problems that you are going through now, but share the victories He has brought you through in the past. Testimony: Below is an outline on how to prepare your testimony. If you follow these steps, you will be able to effectively share your testimony. This will take a lot of time, but when you are finished your testimony will be very powerful and effective.
- Write out your entire testimony. This will show you what is important and what is not. This will take the longest time to do.
- Read your testimony and make an outline of what you think is important to keep. When you are doing this, you want to keep the key events in your life.
- After you have made your outline, record your testimony on a tape cassette, so that you can hear yourself.
- Next, listen to your testimony and further condense it. The more you listen to it, the more you will notice what needs to be taken out. Remember that your testimony needs to be no more than 5 minutes.
- Outline your testimony into three different parts, a) What you were like before you met Christ, b) How you met Christ and, c) What He has done with you since you have believed in Him.
- Next, find 2-3 scriptures that you can put into your testimony that will highlight certain point that you want to bring out.
- Finally, practice your testimony over and over again until you have it within 5 minutes. During this time, because you have to get it within 5 minutes, you will probably notice that some things from your testimony will need to be shortened. Practice until you feel comfortable with it and have it within the time limit. Then outline your testimony in the back of your Bible so that you will always be ready to share it at any given time.
DO NOT put down or criticize any religious denomination or racial group.
CORRESPONDENCE MINISTRY TEAM
This ministry is very vital and extremely important. There is nothing outside a weekend visit that is more up-lifting to a man or woman in prison than to receive a letter from the outside world.
- This is a unique ministry which requires God's Wisdom, in that an inmate will ask questions in a letter that would never be asked otherwise.
- Writer must have a P.O. Box or church. Nothing comes to the home address. NO EXCEPTIONS!
- No home telephone numbers are EVER given out. NO EXCEPTIONS!
- Men must write men and women must write women.
- Couples who write inmates are no longer separate identities, but are a "We" type ministry in all that is corresponded. Minister as a team.
- Myself or staff will place you with pen-pals.
- Consistency is a necessity and an absolute.
- Prompt response is also very important.
- Remember Jesus Christ is your main theme in our letters: not denominations, doctrinal debates, or theological differences.
- Be honest and simple; talk straight from the heart.
- Send stamped addressed envelope with each letter. (P.O. Box address only, no exceptions)
- Constantly uplift and be an encouragement in writing the inmate.