Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls

Lesson A

Our vision is to see the Body of Christ behind prison walls made whole, so we can become more effective in reaching the lost. This process of wholeness takes place through displaying the compassion of Christ and modeling the love of God.

Mending the Body of Christ is ". . . for the equipping [perfecting] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12). This concept of equipping or perfecting is also found in Matthew 4:21, where James and John are mending their nets. The word mending is the same root word translated perfecting. If their fishing nets were not mended, they were of no value for catching fish. Likewise, if the members of the Body of Christ are not mended, they will be useless as fishers of men.

Where is the Body?

The Mending of the Body of Christ study chart covers the evangelism Field, a spiritual autopsy in the Mortuary, discipleship in the Sanctuary and ministering as sons of God in the Body of Christ.

In most prisons, the Protestants are provided limited time and space in the prison chapel to carry out their services. Several religions and Christian denominations, many of which do not follow biblical doctrines, compete for the available chapel hours. Sometimes prisoners are required to conduct their activities only in the chapel, and are often intimidated by prison officials and other inmates.

Where is the Body of Christ behind prison walls? In many cases, we find them hiding in the chapel, in their cells and work places; not standing up for Christ before others. If they are seen, it is walking from their housing units to the chapel, lacking boldness to share their faith in Christ.

It's Time to "Go!"

Jesus came and told His disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, GO and MAKE disciples of ALL the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT).

It is time for prisoners in the Body of Christ to come out of their cells, to evangelize the unsaved in their housing units and yard. This will happen only as individual saints catch the vision for Mending the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls, for ". . . there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philipians 3:18b).

We must start by praying that a desire for evangelism will come to the church leadership in prisons. That their love for each other would be genuine. That they would take delight in honoring each other. That they would not be lazy in the work of the ministry, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. That they be glad for all God's plan for them, and to be patient in trouble, always prayerful (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

The Body's Priorities

The Mending the Body Ministry Priorities study chart explains how the building housing units are our top priority for ministry. Where we live is our Jerusalem [city of peace], where we are empowered to testify of Christ's finished work at the cross. Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth"(Acts 1:8).

We are called to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace to equip [mend] the saints for the work of the ministry, and for edifying [building up] the body of Christ in love (Ephesians 4:3,12,16). When the saints are mended, the work of the ministry flows out from the housing unit to Judea [the chapel] and to Samaria [the prison yard]. These are God's treasures coming forth as golden lights from prison cells as a Spiritual army taking the Gospel over the walls to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Mending the Body of Christ Building Meeting Plan calls for Christians to meet together weekly in their housing units as a Body, reporting on their assigned tasks, all joined together for a powerful move of God. But first, there is a need to go through the Building Meeting Plan Training, that we "...may adorn [make attractive] the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (Titus 2:10b).

A Responsible Body

It is the responsibility of the prison chaplain and the mature Christian prisoners to come together for the Mending of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote: "And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry... " (Ephesians 4:11,12a).

Paul went on to say: ". . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ"(Ephesians 4:13). That perfect man is Christ Himself, who the Body of Christ is to emulate.

We are exhorted to: " longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head --Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:14-16).

Every Joint Supplies

Mending the Body of Christ starts by admitting we are scattered and have a need to serve one another for the purpose of joining the body together in love. The whole body is to be joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share. This is what causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

In most cases, the prison chaplain is spread too thin among the inmate population. He is unaware of the many gifts in the body, because only a few members have access to him. Therefore, the ministry is limited to the supply of a few joints, causing the rest of the body to stagnate without growth. But as the members of the body agree to meet together in the housing units to develop unity, love for one another and to discover the many gifts in the body, a vision develops for reaching the lost around them.

The Apostle Peter exhorts: "God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to Him forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10,11).

Discover the Gifts

It is of utmost importance that the saints join together with Mending of the Body to discover the many gifts that are in atrophy or wasting away. The Apostle Paul says there are many members having different gifts of grace. These are motivational gifts, which flow from a deep motivation within us, that when satisfied through use, causes us the most fulfillment, excitement and joy. These gifts include prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, organization and showing mercy (Romans 12:4-8). The body is crippled until these gifts are activated, while lacking maturity and the ability to function in love and care for each individual part.

We are exhorted to " kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Romans 12:10-12).

The Body in Love

The Mending of the Body of Christ Behind Prison Walls is now taking place. We have seen the growth of the body for the edifying [building up] of itself in love. The Building Meeting Plan is taking place in the housing units where the body has joined together for its different gifts to operate.

The facilitators are meeting together from each housing unit for a unified plan of evangelism, because they have seen the value of Mending of the Body. As part of the Building Meeting Plan, we have utilized food spreads [banquets], where the Body of Christ joins together to feed all interested inmates in the housing units using donations from the inmate canteen provided by the body. These have been very successful. The Mending the Body Spread Worksheet was created for organizing the housing unit and yard banquets. As a result, more gifts have come forth for every joint to supply.

We have seen men come to Christ who would never go to the chapel. Christians are getting involved in the work of the ministry as their gifts are allowed to flourish. The Body of Christ has grown because of the effective working by which every part does its share. As each member does his share in the housing units, they become prepared to go to the yard for a glorious display of the Body of Christ.