If you are interested in participating in the letter writing program, please sign up here.

MISSION:

TO BE THE CHURCH AND REACH OUT TO THOSE IN NEED BY VISITING THOSE IN PRISON THROUGH A CARING MINISTRY OF CORRESPONDENCE

FACT:

There are 50,000 incarcerated people in the state of Ohio.

THE NEED:

Many incarcerated people have little or no contact with friends or family once they have entered prison. Letter writing is an easy way to reach those that have been forgotten.  Letter writing can bring the love of Christ to a person in prison and can be a transformative experience for both people involved. Letter writing begins a process of connection and encouragement. It can be a place where a prisoner is listened to. Powerful discipling can take place. Most of all, incarcerated folks long for an expression of human concern. It can be a simple but powerful ministry for the letter writer.  The need for good listening can’t be emphasized enough.

Program Facilitators:  

Who Can Volunteer:

A person must be stable emotionally and spiritually. Prisoners may have roller coaster emotions and experiences. The volunteer must be able to be accepting and stick to the original purpose of spiritual encouragement. Motivation and commitment are required. Flexibility is required. The volunteer must not get discouraged easily. It may take time to establish a trusting relationship.

A Volunteer’s Time Commitment:

The time it takes to write a letter is all you need. This has been made easier with a new email system in the prison called J-Pay. You can write a letter using any computer, I-pad or I-phone. At least two letters a month are recommended. Or you can send hand written letters but they will get there more slowly or not at all. You can send handwritten letters to your prisoner friend at Chillicothe using the address and the inmate’s number.

How To Get Started: Suggestions:

First of all, ask God for His guidance as you enter this relationship and thank Him for your new contact. The first letter doesn’t have to be long. You will be limited to one page by J-Pay. Just introduce yourself. Give your name, interests and line of work. Tell what church you attend and what your hobbies are.  Basic facts: Born where, education, career, military, married, any info about your personal relationship with God and why you wanted to correspond.

What not to ask: “what are you in for?”

Build trust in your initial letters. Don’t give any advice unless someone specifically asks for it.

Ask genuine questions. Where are you from? , Where were you born?, Do you have family? Share your basic facts. Begin to build trust.

Encourage, uplift but most of all LISTEN!

You must only share as much information as you feel comfortable. Don’t share addresses. Again LISTEN!  Validate their feelings. Don’t preach! Never betray their trust. Be humble.

Five Characteristics Shared by Inmates:

  1. Lonely – They are isolated from family and friends.
  2. Useless – Their self esteem has been devastated – encourage them!
  3. Bitter – They may feel bitter towards authority, family, unjust prison system, maybe even God.
  4. Aimless – They have no direction. Encourage them in their interest and talents.
  5. Suspicious – They might not trust you, persevere in caring about them and be humble and open. God’s love will shine through you.

As trust builds, share about your faith if it seems right, no preaching! Your own personal journey can encourage him.

Do’s:

  • Pray for your prisoner friend regularly.
  • Write at least two times a month.
  • Be a good listener!
  • Prisoners will have up days and down days. Again just listen.
  • Be aware of potential con games.

Don’t:

  • Give legal advice or council regarding a case.
  • Send money for financial support or legal fees, no money orders.
  • Ask why they are there.
  • Give out your phone number or receive collect calls.
  • Provide the offender with your home address.
  • Send photos.
  • Talk about your personal problems.

If you ever feel uncomfortable about any personal conversations, please feel free to discuss it with Fred Gennett or Tom Seddon.

There are ways certain gifts such as food or needed clothing can be sent. Please talk to Fred or Tom.

Prisoners may stop writing. WHY?

  1. Unreasonable expectations
  2. Unresolved biases based on religion, race, or economics.
  3. Hospitalization
  4. Unit transfer
  5. Paroled or released

Can a letter writing volunteer visit?

We can facilitate this process and educate any volunteer about what happens during the visiting process and how to set this up. Contact Fred or Tom.

If our prisoner friend is getting out, can we help in any way?

We possibly can, but you will need to speak with Fred or Tom first.

How to use J-Pay:

Go to www.jpay.com, scroll down to the bottom and take time to see all the selections. To sign up, find SIGN UP AND START TODAY. It will guide you to create a user name and password, you will log in and then you are ready to write! You will buy stamps using a credit card and you will use a stamp every time you send your prisoner friend an email. Your inbox will have all the new and old letters sent to you. To write a letter click COMPOSE which will take you to a blank page to write your letter. Don’t forget to include a prepaid reply stamp for your prisoner friend to write back.

We hope to stay in regular contact with our letter writers. We would like to meet together to support each other and share and discuss our experiences, our concerns and our special stories.

If you ever feel uncomfortable about any personal conversations, or if you have ANY questions or concerns, please feel free to discuss it with Fred or Tom.

Getting Involved

If you are interested in participating with the letter writing program, please sign up right here and a member of our team will be in touch with you!