Our History

Charles Colson, former aide to President Nixon, served seven months in a federal prison camp for a Watergate-related offense. There, he became convinced the real solution to crime is found through spiritual renewal. This solution grew into Prison Fellowship International, the world’s largest network of prison ministries.

  • 1976: Colson establishes Prison Fellowship in the United States.
  • 1979: Colson expands his vision outside the United States, founding Prison Fellowship International.
  • 1983: Prison Fellowship International receives special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
  • 1994: Prison Fellowship International introduces Umuvumu Tree Project in response to the Rwandan Genocide.
  • 1996: Sycamore Tree Project designed to bring victims in prison to meet with unrelated offenders to repair the harm caused by crime and make amends.
  • 2012: Prison Fellowship International launches The Prisoner’s Journey and the Children of Prisoners Program. Colson passes away, leaving a lasting legacy.
  • 2016: The Sycamore Tree Project is rebooted as Sycamore Tree Project–Justice and Peace and piloted in two countries.
  • Today: Prison Fellowship International is serving prisoners, their families, and victims of crime in 116 countries.

What makes Prison Fellowship International unique from other international Christian ministries is our focus trans-denominational, indigenous leadership and local funding. This grassroots presence enables us to minister to prisoners and their families in culturally relevant ways.

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By choosing to care for prisoners, you are helping to transform prisoners’ lives, restore them to their families, and build safer communities.

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