Equipping prison volunteers for evangelism all over the world
Stephen James pictured with Enocent Silwamba, PFI’s regional director for Anglophone Africa
2019 has been a busy one so far for Stephen James, our Director of Prison Ministry.
Here Stephen and Prison Fellowship Liberia Executive Director/CEO, Francis Kollie, share their reflections from Stephen's recent training trips.
Stephen, tell us a little bit about where you've been this year and why
So far this year I have been to Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Liberia and Russia!
This is all part of CEM's ongoing partnership with Prison FelIowship International (PFI), who use an adapted version of the Christianity Explored Prison Edition, called The Prisoner's Journey® (TPJ), in prisons all over the world.
I travel out to various countries throughout the year to introduce national PF ministries and their volunteers to the course and equip them to run it inside their local prisons.
How much of your time is spent on international travel?
This year I have travelled to five countries, and in previous years I have travelled to up to nine countries. It can take up to a third of my year planning and travelling to these countries.
From initial discussions with national PF ministries and calls fine-tuning the planning arrangements to visa applications (the criminal history section is fun), visiting embassies and booking travel and accommodation, the whole process can be very time consuming.
PF Russia training
Can you share any highlights from this year's visits?
When I went to South Africa it was for a five-day event giving new national ministries an overview of the whole course - which includes preparation, promotion, the course, discipleship and evaluation.
As there were lots of nationalities in attendance, it meant that as I was speaking I was being simultaneously translated into three languages - Russian, Lebanese and French. It was an amazing experience!
In the other countries I visited it was more hands on training for the volunteers going into the prisons. We always have funny moments when we run the simulation session, which is when the volunteers take on the roles of a prisoner and I have to facilitate it! There's always lots of laughter.
I love teaching identity, mission and call from Mark's gospel during training - you can see the whole room come alive. And the same when I speak from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 about God's role and ours in evangelism.
Scripture never fails to reveal God and excite people in the training events.
Programme Coordinator training in South Africa
We also interviewed Francis Kollie from PF Liberia about his reflections from the training event.
How did the The Prisoner's Journey® training impact you personally and your volunteers?
I consider TPJ a one-on-one encounter with Jesus. This training has helped me personally to shift my mindset on how Jesus engaged persons and individuals who are thirsty for his word and him.
And it's not just the prisoners who get to know him but anyone can have a direct encounter with Jesus using TPJ materials.
What were the stand-out moments of the training?
Many volunteers struggle with the issue of sharing and preaching the gospel of Christ in prisons. TPJ gives volunteers confidence to help others discover who Jesus truly is.
How will the training impact your national ministry?
The training will impact the national ministry as it helps us present the gospel to lost souls in a relevant and effective way. TPJ has helped PF Liberia to regain its relevancy in prisons in Liberia.
PF Liberia volunteers complete their training
Read more about our prison ministry
If you'd like to support this ministry, we are currently running a matched funding campaign, where all regular gifts will be doubled and put towards our international work
FIND OUT MORE