New Discovery Bible School: The Austin South Seventh-day Adventist Church has a very active Bible school that does correspondence Bible lessons with offenders in prisons in Texas as well as in other states. Our church members are involved in mailing the lessons to offenders and grading them. Some of our teachers have developed more personal relationships with offenders by corresponding with them. We use the New Discovery Bible lessons developed by the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists specifically designed to be used in the prisons. These lessons are very simple and use fill-in-the blank Bible verses to help offenders learn to know Jesus as their personal Savior and to understand basic Bible truth. These lessons have been an incredible blessing and have led many offenders to surrender their lives to Jesus through a personal decision and through baptism (when available in the prison). Please contact the Austin South Seventh-day Adventist Church for more information regarding our New Discovery Bible School and how it operates.
LAMB Program—Love A Mother’s Baby Program: The LAMB program helps incarcerated mothers reconnect with their children in a tangible way. These children suffer a sense of loss, rejection, confusion, deep heart hurt and loneliness when their mother is put in prison. Mothers who participate in this program select a handmade fleece blanket and matching pillow or a crocheted/knitted blanket, a stuffed animal, and a Bible story book for each child and write a personal note to them. This gift helps incarcerated mothers reconnect and bond with their child. If the family comes to visit, the offender can get the blanket gift package from the warden to give to her children. If the offender’s family does not visit, the blanket gift package is mailed to the children. During the program, we talk with the women about how much God loves each of them and how He wants to help them. We give them a Steps to Christ which includes a card to mail requesting Bible studies. We have many women who request Bible studies. We also include a copy of Steps to Christ in each blanket gift package for the foster parents.
Knitting Hearts Together with Jesus Program: The Knitting Hearts Together with Jesus is a dual program which teaches incarcerated women to crochet plus studies the Bible and Steps to Christ with them. The program has about 40 to 50 incarcerated women, who are broken into small groups of 8 to 10 offenders and 1 to 2 Bible/crocheting teachers. Offenders are taught the basics of crocheting by crocheting a square which is used to make a patchwork lap blanket. Once they have learned, they can crochet a variety items such as baby blankets for premature babies, stuffed animals, scarves, hats, etc. The completed items are given to various charities.
Friendship/Mentoring of Incarcerated Women: The friendships formed in both the LAMB and Knitting Hearts Together with Jesus Programs enable us to show the women that we care for them, that they are important to us, and that they are important to God. The love and care we provide has a life transforming impact on many of them, helping them regain their self-respect and self-worth, to feel that they are valuable, and to understand that in spite of their mistake, God still loves them and wants to help them. As a result of our program and other programs in the prison, many of the women are able to live successful lives after their release.
Blanket Making Ministry, Tuesdays, 12:00 to 4:00 pm at the Austin South SDA Church. All blankets for the LAMB ministry are handmade—sewn fleece, crocheted, and knitted. Why do we make the blankets instead of purchasing them? A large percentage of the women and men who are incarcerated have come from extremely dysfunctional families and have never felt loved and cared for. A handmade blanket conveys a much deeper love and concern—someone actually took the time to make a blanket for me to give my child—that has a profound impact on the offenders and their children.
Sabbath Church Services: MTC Lockhart Correctional Facility in Lockhart, Texas has requested that we start a Sabbath Church Service. We have submitted a proposal to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and are waiting on approval. This is an exciting opportunity!! We need volunteers to work in this ministry and to help reach many incarcerated women with the love of Jesus and an understanding of the Bible.
Why be involved in Prison Ministries?
- The prisons are a HUGE mission field! Thousands of men and women, who have often grown up in extremely difficult and heartbreaking situations, have hit “rock bottom low” and are searching for the answers and help that comes from Jesus only. They desperately need people to show them God’s love in a tangible way and to teach them the precious Bible truth.
- God calls us to reach out and help incarcerated men and women. Matthew 25 says, “I was in prison and you came to me . . . As you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.”
- It is true that incarcerated men and women have committed crimes, yet they are still God’s precious sons and daughters. As we’ve worked with offenders, our hearts have been touched in ways we never dreamed possible and God has put an incredible love in our hearts for them. They have truly become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our greatest desire is to sit with them under the Heavenly Tree of Life and praise God throughout eternity for His amazing love in dying for our salvation.
How can YOU get involved?
- Study the Bible with Incarcerated men and women through Correspondence Programs: Incarcerated men and women from many prisons are mailing requests to Austin South Seventh-day Adventist Church to study the Bible through the New Discovery Bible lessons and the Light 4 Learners Bible lessons. We need teachers! Grading Bible lessons can be done from the comfort of your home within your time constraints. This is a very rewarding ministry! It transforms the lives of incarcerated people and gives them new hope in Jesus, plus it will touch your heart and bless you in ways beyond what you might think.
- Participate in the LAMB and Knitting Hearts Together with Jesus Programs: The LAMB and Knitting Hearts Together with Jesus Programs go to the MTC Lockhart Correctional Facility in Lockhart, Texas on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. The prison is asking us to expand this program to include more offenders. To do this, we desperately need more people to teach small group Bible studies, to mentor the women, and to teach offenders to crochet (it is not necessary for you to know how to crochet; we will teach you to crochet.) Men are needed in these ministries as well as women. Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) volunteer training is required to minister in the prison.
- Help make fleece and crocheted/knitted blankets. We meet every Tuesday from 12:00 to 4:00 PM at the Austin South SDA Church to make blankets. We would welcome having you join us! If you cannot participate at that time, you can make blankets at home and donate them to the LAMB Ministry.
- Start a LAMB and/or Knitting Hearts Together Program at the local jail/prison near you. These programs are showing the love of God in a tangible way and having a profound impact on thousands of incarcerated women, their children, and their families. Other prisons in the United States and around the world would benefit from similar programs. We’ve been asked to start these ministries at other prisons, including men’s prisons and told, “Men need to show their children that they love them just as much as mothers do.” Incarcerated men are also finding great satisfaction in crocheting stuffed animals and other items to donate to other suffering children and adults.
- Donate Money: Purchasing the materials for these programs—fleece material, yarn, Bible story books, Bibles, Steps to Christ, Bible lessons, stuffed animals, etc.—is costly. You can donate to Austin South SDA Church Prison Ministries, P.O. Box 150323, Austin, TX 78715-0323. All gifts are tax deductible.
- Volunteer to help with the Sabbath Church Service at MTC Lockhart Correctional Facility. This is a new program which the prison chaplain has requested we start. We have submitted the application to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and are waiting on approval. We need volunteers to help with this program. If you are interested, please contact us for additional information.
- You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or if you want to get involved.