My husband Jimmy and I have been working with a prison ministry called “Malachi Dads” for the last five years. It is different from other prison ministries in that we meet as couples with men in the prisons who have children. Our weekly discipleship program starts with the salvation message, and then focuses on the verse in Malachi 4:6: He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
We teach the men about healthy marriages and how to be good fathers to their children, encouraging them to write to them on a regular basis. My husband and I also take time to write each of them on a regular basis. Relationship is the key to the ministry, and the thing that we believe brings transformation.
Our year-long program ends with a “Returning Hearts Day.” The prison allows one day for all family members to come for a full contact visit, with everyone eating, playing together and enjoying one another. At the end of this day, we have a graduation ceremony where each person receives a graduation certificate.
One of the things that impacted me most through the years of working with these men is that no one is irredeemable. God can do anything, and He can change anyone. Often times, we see that unforgiveness is something that haunts many of them. One inmate we worked with seemed to be struggling with this in his life, so Jimmy wrote him a letter to bring it before God. When we saw him a month later, he looked totally different–cheerful and able to make eye contact with us–so we knew that he had spent time with the Lord!
This ministry has really given me a heart of compassion, and it’s been wonderful to see the transformation of not just the men, but their families. I encourage everyone to find something you can do to help others. If you’re not comfortable doing it on your own, find a group like this one where you can work with others to help bring healing and life to those in the world who are broken and lost. You never know how God will use you to touch one life, which, in turn, will touch many other lives!