Despite armed guards, gigantic fences topped with razor wire and peers with a penchant for trouble, many men, women and juveniles are coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ while in prison. Currently there are more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States—most do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Where some people only see in prisoners the worst that society has to offer, chaplains see a massive and continually growing mission field filled with desperate people hungry for the peace only a relationship with Christ can bring.
Each day Assemblies of God chaplains are penetrating the darkness of prisons despite the challenges and dangers. Such a ministry can be intense and stressful, yet for those called to correctional chaplaincy there is nothing more rewarding than bringing the gospel to a vast, eclectic and ever-changing population.
A correctional chaplain’s main job is to provide for the free exercise of religion of all inmates. But within such broad parameters the chaplain has numerous opportunities to share his or her faith through counseling, Bible studies, worship and prayer services, and cogent mentoring relationships with inmates and prison staff alike.
As they communicate God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness, chaplains are seeing lives powerfully changed in prisons and jails across the nation. Each day chaplains walk with prisoners, challenging them to live better lives and giving them the moral tools to do so. Chaplains also help prison administrators keep the institution running smoothly by being dependable, calming and stabilizing forces.
Throughout the United States Assemblies of God correctional chaplains can be found fulfilling the Great Commission in juvenile, state, federal, county and private institutions as well as in aftercare programs.
For most correctional chaplaincy positions one must meet educational and pastoral requirements. For those interested in ministering in the federal prison system a master of divinity degree from an accredited seminary is required.