by Frank Zeidler, Jr., Executive Director
Multiple teams…one ministry…one message. A phrase that blends the components of our work into one simple but powerful conclusion.
The Saints Prison Ministry embraces the necessity of discipleship, and has been involved in Bible Correspondence lessons since our inception; but we also recognize that we have ministry partners that excel in that area. Caring for an ex-offender – aka aftercare or post-prison ministry – requires close, constant interaction and mentoring, not programs of large scale. To be effective in that area of prison ministry means almost a singular focus and we also have some wonderful partners for those seeking help after release. We understand the need and importance of these elements of prison ministry – we even tried to be “all things to all people” for a short time. However, at our core, SPM has always been a predominantly evangelistic work.
The Saints Prison Ministry does one thing better than any other organization operating on a national level – reach inmates with the Gospel through athletics. God has seen fit to sustain us in this work and His blessings continue to flow. When I began with the ministry in 1998, we operated one softball team and one basketball team. Each of those teams conducted one crusade in addition to their standard season. Two teams and two crusades – that was the extent of our reach. Comparatively, in 2018 our ministry is twelve athletic teams and we conducted eight crusades… and even more planned for 2019!
That is 20 different teams taking the field in 13 different states. Twenty different collections of personalities led by 20 different coaches. However, every one of those teams’ leaders and each missionary-athlete recognizes that they represent the Lord first and The Saints Prison Ministry second. They set aside personalities and individual team identities because we are multiple teams but one ministry. Every prison knows they are inviting The Saints Prison Ministry to their facility and when the team arrives, that is what they see. It doesn’t matter which team walks up to the gate because each team carries itself the same way – a way that is pleasing to the Lord and makes an impact on all we encounter.
But our focus is not on our teams or even the ministry. Our focus is entirely on the inmates and their need for a Savior. Every team that represents The Saints Prison Ministry behind walls or fences carries the same message: Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen and coming again for the man or woman standing in front of us. Jesus Christ can provide a freedom known only through Him, despite the bars and chains that face them every day. Our missionary-athletes do not waver from that message, nor do they apologize for it.
Multiple teams… 20 teams or more each year, comprised of 190+ volunteer missionary-athletes, visiting 10-15 states annually.
One ministry… every man or woman setting aside their egos to represent the Saints Prison Ministry, for the glory of God.
One message… Jesus saves! Can there be anything else worth talking about?