Koinonia House National Ministries – who we are
by Manny Mill
A Critical National Concern
The need for biblical and whole-life discipleship among ex-prisoners is becoming increasingly acute. Prisons are overcrowded and new ones continue to be built as a means of “solution” to the increasing crime and recidivism (return t o prison) rates.
Did you know that each year nearly 700,000 of the approximately 2.4 million individuals incarcerated in the department of corrections throughout the United States are released back into society? It is estimated that 10 percent, or 70,000 of those are Christians!
Koinonia House® National Ministries’ (KHNM) position is that we as a body of Christ (the Church) have a moral and biblical responsibility to meet these Christian neighbors at the prison gate and provide effective biblical and whole life discipleship for them. Only Jesus Christ can permanently break the cycle of crime in an individual’s life and restore that person to family, friends and community.
In order for that to happen, the Church must be equipped to meet these Christian neighbors at the prison gate with a comprehensive whole-life biblical plan. When ex-prisoners are released, they often possess no support group, no belongings and no place to live. Therefore, it is important that these Christian neighbors are met at the prison gate and taken into a safe, nurturing Christian family setting that will teach them how to apply biblical principles to their life. Just as our own families are designed as a primary means of nurture and admonition, so the biblical family through the context of the local church can serve.
What KHNM is Doing About it
“The Mission of Koinonia House® National Ministries (KHNM) is to equip the local church to receive Christian inmates released from prison to be integrated into the Church, the workplace, and society through biblical discipleship”
There are two primary avenues through which KHNM seeks to assure that Christian neighbors coming out of prison are met at the prison gate: assist churches, groups or individuals in setting up a post-prison ministry discipleship home for Christians coming out of prison; equipping local churches to prepare to receive a Christian neighbor – matching at least one ex-prisoner to one local church.
Both of these avenues require an important training component. Therefore KHNM has adopted and adapted the biblical teachings of many noted Christian thinkers, teachers, preachers and scholars such as Dr. Tony Evans, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, A.W. Tozer and others into a comprehensive training program. Further, KHNM has over 16 years of experience to draw on consisting of many failures and a few successes, which have also contributed toward the culmination of an effective core curriculum for both Christian neighbors and the local church.
The KHNM ministry model focuses on five key life elements for Christian neighbors regardless of whether or not they are part of the home-based model or the Meet Me at the Gate® mode. Those five foundational elements are: Christian family home/modeling, Biblical discipleship, connectivity to a local church, provision of two mentors/accountability partners (life skills and financial), and suitable employment.
Koinonia House® National Ministries realizes that it cannot be successful apart from the local church and other community groups and/or other ministry groups. We have learned that working side by side with like-minded Bible-based organizations, KHNM can be more effective in its ability to meet the needs of Christian neighbors coming out of prison and their families.
Through a collaborative effort with Awana, KHNM has been able to help Awana extend their outreach beyond the local church program to minister to the children of incarcerated parents. A pilot program is already in its third year at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA whereby a “Returning Hearts” weekend of Bible teaching and activities are held with the children of inmates of the prison. For more information on this visit www.awana.org.
In order for KHNM to help the local church be effective in its ability to meet at the gate and then minister to Christian neighbors coming out of prison, we have learned that it is equally important to begin the process of pre-release with our Christian brothers and sisters behind bars. The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola provides KHNM an opportunity to do just that. KHNM has been able to have greater access to Christians at Angola than in any other U.S. prison. We have been able to connect Christian neighbors at Angola to great biblical teaching from friends of our ministry who will go to Angola for a week of intensive training each year. Additionally, KHNM has linked Angola prison with Moody Broadcasting in Chicago serving as a catalyst for opening the first Moody affiliate and the first Christian radio station in the U.S. behind the bars of prison! This radio station is completely operated by inmate DJ’s and provides biblical encouragement and instruction to those incarcerated at Angola prison.
A relationship with the Illinois Department of Corrections at Danville is similar to Angola in that KHNM has been given an opportunity to have regular access to inmates of Danville and establish an evangelistic and follow-up program. In a collaborative effort with Immanuel United Reformed Church of Demotte, IN, KHNM leads a team of volunteers to minister to the inmates equipping them for potential release. The relationship with Immanuel United Reformed is a great example of the significance in partnering with the local church to accomplish a common goal – make disciples of Jesus Christ. These folks just happen to be in prison and/or coming out of prison.
Where We Are Headed
The ministry of meeting Christian ex-prisoners at the prison gate and investing oneself completely into the life of that individual has been a less than attractive notion to the Body of Christ. It is uncomfortable and often wrought with many disappointments when the Christian neighbor fails to meet the expectations we have for him or her. This population has indeed become the most neglected group.
Therefore, KHNM serves as a “voice for the voiceless” Christian neighbors in and coming out of prison. It is our objective to assist the body of Christ to be that entity who fully embraces and assists Christian neighbors coming out of prison to not only regain their status as a contributing member of society, but a biblically growing disciple of Jesus Christ who contributes to the body of Christ as a whole.
Meet Me at the Gate® seminars are central to being able to equip the local church to be able to effectively minister to Christian neighbors coming out of prison. KHNM will continue to create an urgent awareness among the body of Christ of the need to embrace the post-prison population. Additionally, KHNM continues to believe the most successful approach to ministering effectively to Christian neighbors coming out of prison is through the context of a post-prison ministry home based on biblical discipleship and one that implements the Koinonia House® ministry model. Working with grass-roots Christians to establish such discipleship homes remains a goal and the Meet Me at the Gate® initiative serves as a means toward that end.
You are key to that end.