God is faithful. That was theme of our 40th anniversary year in 2019, as we reflected on how God had continually guided Prison Fellowship through many changes and challenges.
Now, we face the biggest global challenge of our generation, and that challenge is already being felt by PF as an organisation. Most of PF’s volunteers are no longer allowed to go into prison, in an attempt to reduce the level of traffic through the gate and thus the spread of coronavirus.
This is a massive moment for PF. For 40 years, our dedicated volunteers have faithfully served those in our prisons. As of now, the vast majority of our ministry which requires our volunteers to be inside prison has stopped. This is a big loss for our volunteers, and the men and women they have been supporting inside.
And still, God’s faithfulness is as true today, as it ever has been.
As I write this, there are many unknowns. What I do know is that it starts—as it always has done for us—in prayer.
We are founded on a vision of prayer for every prison and we are amplifying that role now. Each day throughout April and May, we are praying daily for four prisons by name, so that we may cover every prison in England and Wales in prayer over the thirty days.
PF’s Response to Coronavirus
- We were able to complete the Angel Tree Mothers’ Day programme as normal, and received much positive feedback from both young people in prison and prison Chaplains.
- All Sycamore Tree courses are currently postponed. We are looking at what we can do to prepare for when restrictions are lifted, including moving training online so that new Group Facilitators can be trained and ready.
- At this time, when all social visits have stopped, our letter writing ministry, Letter Link, is more important than ever. We are working with Chaplaincies to see how we can expand this programme, and are offering online training to current volunteers.
- Through Chaplaincy Support, PF Volunteer Chaplains, with faith accreditation continue to support the provision of pastoral care in prison chaplaincy. We are also in touch with Managing Chaplains across England and Wales, to see how we can best support them remotely while volunteers are unable to go into prison. They value our continued prayers for their work.
In the midst of the uncertainty, the loss, the fear of what we might need to face in the coming months—God is faithful.
What that means for me is that God is present. He is with us in our grief, our anxiety, our sickness, our isolation, and by His Spirit, he is equipping us again with His strength, His wisdom and His compassion to continue bringing His light and hope into a world that desperately needs it right now.
We are not going anywhere, because our God is not going anywhere. We don’t know what the coming weeks and months will bring, but we are committed to continue showing Christ’s love to prisoners in obedience and love.
May you too know God’s faithfulness in this challenging time,
CEO, Prison Fellowship