Prison Ministry Shares Grace
"Razor wire and prison bars do nothing to stop the grace of God," writes prison ministry pastor Jason Wiersma on the ministry's website, livingstoneprisonchurch.org.
Living Stone Prison Church is a community of Christian men in Mike Durfee State Prison in South Dakota.
Wiersma, a second career pastor, got involved in prison ministry as a volunteer and served as an intern pastor with a CRC prison ministry from 2010 through 2012. Then, he says, God led him and his wife and ministry partner, Ruth, to Mike Durfee prison.
"The need for Living Stone's presence in Mike Durfee is evident every time we enter the razor wire fence," says Wiersma. He adds that there's hunger for the gospel and that many inmates "express their appreciation for the depth in the area of biblical and theological understanding that they glean from the presence of an RCA ministry within the prison."
Living Stone functions like a conventional church in terms of worship, Bible studies, and pastoral care and visits. But, Wiersma says, it's unique in that different men attend worship and study groups from week to week, especially with people coming and going from the prison on a weekly basis.
A group of longer-term inmates provides a stable core for the ministry. "Living Stone is blessed greatly with leaders who use their gifts to reach out to their fellow inmates with the gospel message," says Wiersma.
Weekly Tuesday evening worship services have been attended by 100 to 140 of the prison's 1,250 inmates. "Many of our worship services are inmate-led, as we delegate prayers, Heidelberg readings, and praise and worship to the many Christian inmates who are eager to serve God in those ways.
"We have weekly Bible studies that are consistently attended by 25 to 40 men. We do topical video series studies as well as studies that focus on Scripture alone.
"Time after time we have witnessed God capture men's hearts as a direct result of their incarceration. Crime is never a good thing, but the Lord can and does take the mess and use it to deliver his message."