Ghana (MNN) — One of the roles of the Church is to step into great need and lend a hand to hurting people. It’s all part of being the hands and feet of Jesus. In Ghana, one great need exists in the prison system. As Cynthia Williams of Crossroads Prison Ministries tells us, Ghanaian prisons aren’t as thoroughly funded as they are in the West.
She recently visited Ghana to meet with their contacts on the ground. She says, “The purpose of the trip, again, was to really establish a stronger partnership with them.”
Additionally, Crossroads is helping bridge the gap between the Church and prison officials to educate and raise awareness among the local church about the needs.
She says that generally in Africa, “The prison services themselves, the prison systems, receive very little support from the government. So, any services provided for the prisoners really need to come out of another source.”
Some of that gap is filled by the officers themselves, she explains. But that isn’t exactly sustainable. And that’s why Crossroads Prison Ministries is stepping in to help.
“There are wide ranges of needs — everything from the physical needs of food and clothing and medication and basic hygienic care items, all the way to program needs for rehabilitative services, educational services, and especially for re-entry.”
As with most correctional systems around the world, the lack of rehabilitative assistance usually contributes to a high recidivism rate among convicts. But intentional, proactive help can significantly lower that rate.
A Biblical worldview changes everything
During the visit, Williams was encouraged by the number of prison officers who are Christians.
“They’re approaching their job from the perspective of wanting to not only do their job as an officer, but also really care for them in Christ. And so, there was a great burden and awareness of the need for prison ministries to come in and provide this kind of service,” she explains.
So, not only can Crossroads Prison Ministries assist prison outreach financially and help to provide physical needs, but they can provide the crucial programs that will minister to prisoners at the heart and soul level.
“We’re uniquely equipped to do that because of the support of the local church to, in the practical way, provide for the physical needs — but most importantly, to provide the Bible teaching and, of course, through the Crossroads Bible study program and mentorship, to provide the rehabilitative component because we know that Christ transforms lives.”
In addition to the curriculum and support, Crossroads is able to demonstrate true commitment as they help fund medication for women’s prisons and other practical needs. The partnership between the prison systems and Crossroads is presenting a holistic care option for a group of people that too often go under the radar in societies.
It’s not just about impacting the prisoners, either. Churches who come alongside this ministry get to experience what it means to act as the Body of Christ and share the hope of the Gospel with those who are hurting. And, for the mentors working with Crossroads directly, it’s a chance for their own faith to grow.
“They really become very committed to what they’re doing by seeing the change in their student’s lives. So as they mentor, as they walk alongside of them, encourage them, it’s not just correcting lessons. It’s actually being a part of their spiritual journey and walk.”
Your help from afar
Williams explains there is something anyone reading this can do: you can pray.
She says, “The greatest encouragement is definitely through the prayer support. I think anytime we are working in a setting such as we have in Ghana where there is a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare, there are many ways in which the enemy tries to discourage and prevent us from doing this.”
In addition, you can pray for the local churches to become mobilized and increasingly involved in ministries like this. Ask God to provide the necessary tools, relationships, and volunteers to keep this ministry going.