I want to share some good news from COVID—throughout the lockdowns, God has given the ministry I’m a part of a wide open door to advance the gospel through jail ministry.
There is a basic principle behind ministry to inmates: As evil run its course in our world God is always at work for good. This truth is not only derived from Romans 8:28, but from an even more fundamental principle—God himself is good: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7).
Thus, in the middle of suffering and sin, we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord is using difficult circumstances in people’s lives to actually build his church. It was Jesus who declared, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Protestant Chaplains and Volunteer ministry in the Los Angeles County Jails has not been interrupted. LA County has the nation’s largest prison network, and yet despite the lockdowns in the county as a whole, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) determined that all religious volunteers are considered “first responders,” and we have been allowed us full access to inmates. Even during the height of the lockdown, when churches and schools were closed (many still are!) ministry accelerated in the jails.
In God’s providence, other religious groups pulled out of jails, but the Protestant Christian ministry remained. God was so gracious in allowing the truth of His Word to go fourth, even helping by giving us months without the noise of the false religious teachers and doctrines. Even recently, as other religious groups have started to return, our outreach, preaching, and ministry to those behind bars has gone unabated.
In all my years of jail ministry in LA County, I have never before witnessed the abundant amount of favor and resources that have been poured out into the prison ministry as we have experienced this past year. We have given out vast numbers of Bibles, books and various biblical study materials. In March 2020, right at the beginning of the COVID lockdowns, Grace To You (GTY) offered our prison ministry all of John MacArthur’s books at no cost for our inmates. The books are now being requested at an enormous rate by those incarcerated. Over the past year we have distributed approximately 34,000 GTY books and just received an additional 22,000 to re-stock our jails and prison partners.
Our ministry goes beyond the inmates. As our culture sinfully turns more and more against law enforcement, we have sought ways to demonstrate our appreciation for them. We have done outreaches for the deputies, serving them thousands of meals from In-N-Out across all 7 LASD jails. Through donations to our ministry, we have given deputies over 1,000 MacArthur Study Bibles, as well as hundreds of other books from Grace To You.