Prison and Jail Ministry
God’s Kids was originally developed as a ministry of hope and encouragement for incarcerated women in the prison system – in particular, mothers and grandmothers who desire to learn how to communicate biblical truths to their children and grandchildren. Children of inmates have a 70% chance of being incarcerated themselves. The hope is that this cycle will be broken. The program is implemented in such a way as to encourage each mother in her role as parent no matter what her circumstances.
History and Development of God’s Kids at Plane State Jail
A 12-week program called God’s Kids was developed and piloted in November of 2005 and then again in the fall of 2006 as a joint venture between Child Evangelism Fellowship of East Texas and the chaplaincy department of Plane State Jail in Dayton, Texas. A team of CEF instructors and local church volunteers spent the two 12-week (2 hours per week) sessions teaching incarcerated mothers how to present the message of salvation and other biblical truths to their children, and in some cases, their grandchildren. In one instance, an incarcerated mother was reconciled with her child. Mothers really began thinking, maybe for the first time ever, about their children’s spiritual lives and how God could use them even though they as moms had “messed-up.” Parents of the incarcerated women were amazed to see their daughters complete something “for once in their lives.”
God’s Kids Partners with Local Volunteers
In August of 2007, the door began to open for volunteers to teach a God’s Kids class at a women’s prison in Henderson, Texas. A formal request was made in the fall of 2007 to implement God’s Kids at this facility. At that time no programs were being offered to the female population. In the spring of 2008 changes were put in place to make this a treatment facility; the male population was increased dramatically; and all classes including religious services were temporarily suspended. It seemed the door was closing….
Then in December of 2008, CEF staff and volunteers were given the go-ahead to begin God’s Kids in February of 2009. Since female offenders at this facility are incarcerated for short periods of time (less than 6 months), 6 to 8 weeks was thought to be a good length of time for the class. This was also the first time a class was being offered to the female population which at that time numbered about 250.
The overall goal of the program is to teach these mothers how to present the message of salvation in a very clear and simple way to their child and give the child an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as his / her personal Savior. The curriculum includes learning to use the Wordless Book to present the message of salvation. Songs & action rhymes, Scripture memory, object lessons and using the Wonder Devotional Book are also part of the program. Other topics include understanding children and their age characteristics, teaching children to pray, the importance of the mother as teacher, and the importance of the mother preparing her heart to teach her children. Since the women do not see their children often, a session on “letter writing” is included. The mothers are encouraged to write to their children about what they are learning in this class and in the process, present the message of salvation.
As of March 2012, 18 sessions of God’s Kids have been completed; the program is ongoing.
God’s Kids Introduced in Rains County Jail
In the fall of 2011, a scaled down version of God’s Kids was introduced to both male and female offenders in Rains County Jail. Because the turn-over is so great in county jail facilities, a 1-class, or in some instances, a 2-class session is held. Giving out a pamphlet called What Went Wrong? (written specifically for incarcerated parents) and showing how to use the Wordless Book to present the message of salvation are the foremost objectives.
Through the What Went Wrong? booklet each parent has the opportunity to enroll
his / her child in CEF’s Truth Chasers Club, a free Bible correspondence course for children, teenagers and adults. Through Truth Chasers the children will learn that God loves and cares about them and has a plan for their lives. This can be that one thing that keeps them off the path that leads to incarceration and breaks the cycle that 70% of these children find themselves in.
The Wordless Book is introduced to the parents as a tool they can use to present the message of salvation to their children. Action rhymes, songs, and object lessons are introduced if a 2nd class is held.