Voice in the Wilderness Ministries and our faithful volunteers have been preaching the Word of God every week at the Cook County Jail in Chicago for the last 20 years. Phil has also been blessed to preach in jails and prisons across the country and around the world.
Cook County Jail is an absolutely incredible place. On 96 acres, it’s the largest county jail on one piece of property in the United States. It’s a city within a city. There are 10,000 men and 1,500 women locked up behind hundreds of thousands of tons of cement and steel. As many as 100,000 people are processed through the jail each year. It has an underground tunnel system that connects the divisions. It has almost 4,000 full-time employees and its own hospital.
Phil says, “One of the reasons I love preaching at the jail is because it’s filled with ‘low hanging fruit.'” We have had as many as 1,200 inmates come to chapel for special services.
Phil’s wife Susan also takes a group of women to the ladies division and ministers to them. Over the years hundreds of people have accompanied us to the jail and the vast majority of them say it was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of their lives! Getting involved in front-line ministry is one of the best ways to experience the joy of serving the Lord!
By God’s grace and we have shared the Gospel with more than 100,000 prison inmates!
Jails and prisons are fertile breeding grounds for every wind and wave of doctrine imaginable. Through the generous giving of God’s people we provide quality books and tracts so inmates can continue growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Inmates are taught that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, plus–nothing! Our good works are the result of our salvation, never the cause of it!
We have facilitated the annual “Gideon Blitz” at the Cook County Jail many times. That is when the Gideon’s come in and provide a Bible to every person who wants one. As we mentioned, there are 10,000 men and 1,500 women at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. The Gideon Blitz is a blast!
Another thing we do at the jail is what we affectionately refer to as, “In your face ministry.” Since most of the inmates either cannot or will not come to chapel, we bring chapel to them. We walk right into the cell blocks, unexpected, unannounced, armed to the teeth with Bibles and Gospel tracts. As we enter, we ask the officer to turn off the TV. Then we preach the Gospel like we’re all going to die at 12:00 O’clock!
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between preaching and teaching? Teaching is when you train children what to do in case of a fire. Preaching is what you do when there’s a fire!
When we’re done we ask the men, “How many of you would like to come forward to pray?” Usually 60-75% of the men will surround us in a circle, and pray! I realize that may be hard for some to believe but that is exactly what happens every time!
“A church which does not exist to do good in the slums of a city is a church that has no reason to justify its longer existence. Not for yourself church do you exist any more than Christ existed for Himself His glory was that He laid aside His glory, and the glory of the church is when she lays down her respectability and her dignity and counts it to be her glory to gather together the out casts, and her highest honor to seek amid the foulest mire the priceless jewels for which Jesus shed His blood.”
If your organization would like training in how to be more effective in every area of prison ministry, please send us an email by going to our “contact” tab.