Christian Cooperation

  As I look back over the last twenty-six years of Christian service, there's been nothing that has frustrated me more than lack of genuine community among evangelical believers. The great strength of the evangelical world is its entrepreneurial nature: People see a need; they start a ministry. But the biggest weakness of evangelicalism is our entrepreneurial nature. We all have our little orbits and cliques and we protect them, which is why what happened recently with another ministry so warms my heart. Last fall, Tom Pratt, then-president of Prison Fellowship, received a phone call from Harry Greene of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry in Richmond, Virginia. Harry invited Tom to spend a day in prayer. The Good News Jail and Prison Ministry recruits and trains private chaplains for correctional institutions throughout the United States and the world. They have 151 staff chaplains, serving 118 institutions in twenty-three states and in India, Nigeria, Latvia, and Estonia. Most of the chaplains raise their own funds, and Good News coordinates all of this. I've worked with Bill Simmer, the founder of the ministry, in the early days of Prison Fellowship. He was a huge help getting us started, but then we lost touch with one another. When Tom met with Harry Greene, Harry told him he was repentant over the fact there had not been closer relationships between the two ministries. After words of reconciliation and encouragement, Tom and Harry had a great prayer session together and pledged that our two ministries would cooperate and work together. Sometime later we heard that the Good News board had heard of our own budget struggles and decided to make a contribution to Prison Fellowship out of their surplus. I took that to be a wonderfully gracious gesture on the part of another prison ministry and arranged to meet with Harry Greene and Bill Simmer, my old friend now retired. Bill and Harry came to our offices to meet with Prison Fellowship's new president, Mark Earley, and me. Not only did we have a great time of fellowship, but Harry and Bill delivered their gift in person -- a six-figure check! I was flabbergasted! I don't know of anything else like this that has happened in the evangelical Christian world. But it's a wonderful example of the kind of communion we ought to have among like-minded brethren seeking to bring Christ to the people in need. I believe this blesses both ministries and advances our joint ministries to prisoners. So often Christian organizations, ministries, and churches end up competing with one another to raise their budgets and to recruit volunteers and participants. One of the great scandals of the Christian body is church growth by sheep-stealing instead of Kingdom expansion. The Good News gift was several months ago, and as I reflect on it now at the end of Prison Fellowship's fiscal year, it gives me encouragement and great hope -- encouragement because we at Prison Fellowship are part of the larger the body of Christ. We work with volunteers, staff, chaplains, churches, other organizations like Good News, and with donors. And it gives me hope because we know that there is one God and Father over us all Who graciously provides for the needs of all His children as we love and serve Him and His Kingdom's purposes. For more information: Learn more about PFM's work. We appreciate the support of our listeners and readers! You can donate online, and through the end of our fiscal year, June 30, your gift will be DOUBLED thanks to the generous matching grant from dear friends of the ministry. Read a letter from Chuck Colson on BreakPoint's special needs.


Chuck Colson


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