Sunday, October 01, 2006

My day in prison

I spent yesterday at Torrance County Detention Facility, a multi-level "correctional institution" receiving training for prison ministry. A man in our church ministers here and this class was required for me to join him.

I'd like to share some observations from my day behind bars and rolls of barbed wire. The prison is a business. All the guards, warden, etc are contractors. Security for visitors wanting into the prison was less than the airport. This may explain why heroin had recently been found in the federal cellblock. The saddest part of the day was watching the young children coming to the prison to visit their fathers.

The class was set up by the prison chaplain and was open to anyone who wanted to be trained to minister in the prison. Of my classmates there were 5 pentacostal/charismatic types, one Jehovah's witness, and one muslim. The chapel bookshelves have an unsound selection of Christian publications that mirrors the type of Christians that come to minister to the inmates. Also many of the prisoners there don't speak English (lots of Mexican nationals) and there were only a couple of Christians books and Bibles in Spanish.

Overall, I learned that there is plenty of need for sound teaching from the body of Christ in this prison. Regrettably, the zeal of the pentacostals -- often zeal without much knowledge I am afraid -- has the largest presence.

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