When the board of Chains of Grace graciously interviewed me for the Executive Director’s position, we mostly discussed the three things I felt were key to this ministry. In sequence, they were:
- Prevention-By determining what takes a man or woman to prison and dealing with the key elements (for which there is no dearth of literature), we might help some stay away from the influences most likely to lead to imprisonment. This is the least expensive of the three things I felt we should do to address the incarceration epidemic in our nation. Education, mentoring and networking do not cost a great deal. We also determined this would be the most difficult action to quantify. We can give hard numbers regarding what we do in Therapy with those who are in prison. We have no difficulty showing what we do in our primary work, which is Reentry. Prevention is harder to quantify because it relates not just to the present, but to the future, as in “How many persons stayed away from trouble because we educated them, or mentored someone who ministered to persons headed for trouble?” These are harder questions to answer.
- Therapy-Therapy is the title we determined to use for the ministry we do with those currently incarcerated. Therapy includes outside contacts (like cards and mail sent to inmates), family networking and helping inmates make their parole plans. This is easy to quantify.
- Reentry-Our primary ministry is expressed in our Mission Statement. That is, “Chains of Grace exists to provide reentry services and supervision to men and women coming out of incarceration.” I am frequently reminded not to take time to list all the things we try to do in our Reentry phase, but I am also aware that this is the most frequently asked question I get when trying to describe, explain and promote our ministry. People want to know what we actually do. I think that is very fair.
Our next posts will involve descriptions and explanations of what we do and why we feel God wants us to proceed as we do. Nothing we say in these posts is intended to be critical of anyone else who does our work. My phrase to explain why we need all the help we can get to help inmates and parolees is this one, which I use in conversations with other ministries who do not do things as we do. I tell them,
“I like the way you do your work more than I do others who do not do it.” In short, keep on keeping on, we need everyone.
To learn more about us, go to our website, www.chainsofgrace.org. You can contribute to our ministry by clicking on Donate and following the prompts to sign up for our paypal account.
If you prefer to write checks (and a note t us, which we love to receive), our hard mail address is:
Chains of Grace
PO Box 1344
Midlothian, Texas 76065