Why Along Side Ministries?
September 2023 • Newsletter
Arizona is facing an ever-increasing number of persons incarcerated and an alarming annual budget of $1.1 billion to keep them in custody. But as Christians we know there is so much more going on than just people being locked up and budgets – there is a battle going on for their souls. Jesus said:
“… for I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.”
What We Do
For the past 23-years, Along Side Ministries has been sharing the love of Christ with the incarcerated and engaging them into Christian discipleship.
Together with volunteers, church
partners, Bible teachers, prayer warriors, partnering donors, and valuable relationships within the Arizona Department of Corrections, Along Side
Ministries has conducted thousands of
services: Church services, small group
Bible studies, mentoring sessions, praise & worship musical events, baptisms, discipleship group sessions. Inmates and ex-felons have been taught about God’s unending love for them, about forgiveness, salvation, spiritual warfare, the blessings of God, freedom in Christ, and so much more.
Along Side Ministries’ Discipleship Program consists of Phase 1: Inside Prison – Discipleship, Mentoring & Preparation for Reentry, and Phase 2: Outside Prison – Safe Housing and Successful Transition to Independent Living.
It is an extraordinarily successful program … 92%+ of graduates never return to prison. Our total number of graduates who stay out of prison for 5 years will save Arizona taxpayers $50M. But, more importantly, the Word of God is going forth and lives are changed, families are restored, and communities are safer.
Incarceration Trends in Arizona
Arizona’s prison/jail population has grown by 60% since 2000 with 50,400 locked up in Arizona - ranking 8th in the world (prisonpolicyinitiative.org). Women in Arizona prisons has increased 20-fold since 2017, and most of which are victims themselves - a shocking 86% have endured sexual violence at some point in their lives (Arizona Imprisonment Crisis). Also, according to the U.S. Department of Justice 52% of state inmates have minor children. Arizona spends $25,397 per inmate per year with 95% of them released at some point, but where do they go and what do they do? Without a plan, support, and guidance, 60-70% will return to prison.
Why We Do it
Jesus saved me and set me free over 35 years ago. I have been in full-time rescue and recovery ministry ever since. I have always wanted to help build a highly successful prison reentry ministry and that is Along Side Ministries. We start on the inside with discipleship groups and mentoring to prepare them for reentry and then provide safe housing and a structured transitional program on the outside. Our volunteer teachers and mentors are amazing, and we all get to see lives transformed daily.
I have been serving in this ministry for close to ten years now, as a volunteer first, then a staff member. I am still amazed and encourage by the way God continues to show up and put his touch on the hearts and souls of men and women who genuinely surrender to our God. I never get weary watching God flex his might and strengthen so many that are so eager to be His children. Being part of this front
row seat gets me up every day.
I have volunteered with other ministries and not many of those have as much recovery programing as Along Side Ministries. That is simply fantastic! The regular sessions each week, the one-on-one mentoring is all great, plus we have a very smart, extremely biblically sound, and caring leadership. I have seen transformation and growth in women’s lives, and a level of maturity that brings joy to my heart. The Holy Spirit is using Along
Side recovery programs to change lives.
I am often questioned why I came out of a
comfortable retirement to work in a Prison
Ministry. The answer is easy, God called me to this ministry, and when God calls, he also equips. Observing lives transformed in miraculous ways is spiritually fulfilling. I am blessed and privileged to be called to this ministry. In the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 25 Jesus talks about helping those in need, “I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you are doing it to me.” I have never done anything in my Christian Life more rewarding than ministering to my Christian brothers in prison.
For me, Matthew 24:35 is what created such a passion to help and belong with Along Side Ministries. I wanted to be part of a ministry that used its “hands and feet” in real life situations. The more familiar I became with Along Side, the more I was able to watch TRUE growth in broken people. I also loved the fact that the ministry has a heart to restore the family and make the community not just safe – but better as well. Pouring time, effort, and resources is fruitful when you support Along Side Ministries.