THE RADICAL TRUTH
About four years ago, Lori Hayter scoped out the empty front lobby of Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV) in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She, a volunteer, and Denise Harris, a Prison Fellowship® field director, had arrived at the facility with Prison Fellowship Academy® curriculum in hand.
It was Lori’s first time doing something like this. She wondered who else might be joining them, since the curriculum indicated they would have some helpers. “So, who are the other volunteers?” she asked in earnest.
“It’s the women,” Denise replied, speaking of the prisoners. “The women are the volunteers.”
Looking back, Lori says, “I sort of had an idea what I was getting into. But I had so much to learn.”
Comprehensive online training sessions prepared Lori to serve behind bars. Soon she had the knowledge, skills, and confidence to start facilitating Prison Fellowship classes with Denise.
“I feel like I get to watch God at work when I go in there,” says Lori. “[People] have this perception that we’re going to go in there, and we’re going to make something happen—we’re going to bring the Lord to them. But God is already at work there, and we get to watch Him, and that’s amazing.”
Lori adds, “I just feel like that’s really freedom: Because of the power of Christ, you can see that you’re not imprisoned even though you are physically. Spiritually, God has set you free.”
Lori is always amazed to see radical transformation on display. And it’s a group effort—an exchange of sorts. Not a group of volunteers swooping in to save the day, but a group of people walking alongside each other to seek Christ and grow together.
This, Lori realizes, is the radical truth of prison ministry. Whenever she walks through the gates of WHV, it’s clear that God is already there.