Andy Corley on EEM’s 55:11 Podcast – Thoughts on Transformation Through “Come Alongside Ministry” Partnership

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Dirk Smith 

Welcome to 55:11 – Season 3, Episode 1. We are excited to have you back and we are excited about this program. Our first episode, we have a very special guest, Andy Corley, who is CEO with Prison Fellowship International (PFI) who is a partner of EEM and a newly entered in partnership arrangement. Looking forward to visiting with Andy, finding out a little bit more about him and talking about what PFI does and just some of the relationship with EEM and PFI. Andy, welcome to the program. Glad to have you on 55:11.  

Andy Corley 

Thank you, Dirk, and happy new year to everybody who is listening. Great to be with you today.  

Brooke Kehl 

Yeah, we’re so happy to have you today, Andy. Thank you for joining us. I just want to jump right in and ask you to tell our audience a little bit about your history and kind of what your bio would be for a new group of people learning about you for the first time. 

Andy Corley 

Yeah, thanks for asking. First of all, I’m a husband, a father and a grandfather now to two great grandkids who we love dearly. I came to PFI by a very circuitous route, which was that I started out my life as a geologist and entered in the commercial world, worked my way out of geology, eventually into running P&L businesses for large global construction materials companies, then moved and switched streams into a completely different sector into cleaning chemicals and into infection control products.  

It was as a result of that, that I ended up being on the Board [of Directors] of PFI as a businessman in 2010 and really found my tribe at that point. I just loved the sense of global mission and camaraderie that existed within PFI, but also the opportunity for very effective kingdom work to be done which of course is mandated by the Lord Jesus himself and through the Scriptures. So, just got very passionate about all of that. Sold my shareholding in the business that we had built about six years ago now and at the same time, PFI were looking for a new CEO and President. So, I stepped off the Board [of Directors], they did a global search and I was very privileged to be appointed as CEO and President which has just been a great and wonderful journey.  

Dirk Smith 

Yeah, one of the things I like about PFI is the fact that you’re at the helm and you don’t have a theology degree. Nothing against theologians – love them – I think there’s a great place for them. But, that’s the one thing that we have in common at EEM. I’ve got an MBA; I’ve got a business background and our president does as well, and it is a business. I love the fact that in all of my meetings that I’ve had with… and I’ve really enjoyed in meeting your exceptional team, many of them, and have just been very impressed with the business acumen that is there. A group of people that recognize, “Hey, this is God’s ministry. There’s no question this is God’s ministry, but we’re called as business men, women, business professionals to run it in an efficient manner, as a business because that’s what it is.” I do appreciate that. It was one of the things that I liked right up front when I started looking at PFI when it came to the table, “Hey, there’s a possible partnership here with PFI.”  

I was recently in your beautiful country and went to the Cotswolds. Now you live in, and I’m going to say it wrong, Derbyshire?  

Andy Corley 

You did say it wrong. That’s right. It’s Derbyshire.  

Dirk Smith 

I was in the Cotswolds and Derbyshire is what, about two and a half hours north if I’m right Is that right? Something like that?  

Andy Corley 

That’s right. Yeah. Derbyshire, for your listeners, is where the industrial revolution began. Actually, just five miles away from where I live with my wife, Andrea, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which runs up a valley, which is where the industrial revolution was born. We get a lot of American visitors coming to see that. Right at the top of the valley is one of our best stately homes, which, wherever I go in the world, when I say, “Do you know Chatsworth house?” which is a stunning, stately home, people know it, which is great.  

Dirk Smith 

That’s where it is. Okay. So that’s very close to you. Okay.  

Andy Corley 

Yeah, it is. Yeah.  

Dirk Smith 

I’ll tell you just I thoroughly enjoy that. I get to Eastern Europe and I’m traveling to Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia. I go through Heathrow, but I never get to get off the plane and just go see England so this last year was quite the treat. I decided to take seven days in the Cotswolds and then three days in London and it was nice, honestly, to be someplace where I didn’t have to have a translator – although, at times I felt like I needed one because there were things said that I had to look to the people I was with and say, “Okay, I think this is what was said but help me make sure I’m understanding this.” But yeah, it was nice.  

Andy Corley 

Winston Churchill, I think, said that between us and the United States, we are two nations divided by a common language. That is very true.  

Dirk Smith 

It’s so true. I’m excited to have you on the program and just get to know you. With PFI, one of the things, again, I’m thrilled about this relationship because I just believe so wholeheartedly in what you all do. I think it’s a fantastic work, so needed. It just goes right in line with us. I mean, our tagline: the Bible, we want everyone to get it, and that’s what you’re doing. You want to get the Gospel in the hands of prisoners and recognize that the Gospel has its transformative power. The Spirit’s going to do the work on the hearts and on the lives but you are stepping into that gap and you’re stepping into that space to help push that forward and get that in their hands.   

With all the opportunities that are ahead of you this year, and again, I’ve heard lots of great things from PFI and I know you’ve got a lot of things on the table, what are you most excited about that you’re looking ahead at in 2024 and maybe even on beyond that as you’ve done strategic planning?  

Andy Corley 

Opportunity, I think, Dirk, has never been bigger than it currently is. We’ve worked very hard on on understanding what particular role PFI plays within the global family of Prison Fellowship National Ministries. We’re in 123 countries – cross-cultural, multi-ethnic, cross-confessional – so a true family with real diversity in it. 

Our mission is to transform the lives of prisoners, their families and victims through a global network of ministry partners, which means that what we’re really looking for is transformation in the lives of individuals, because there’s a big beating heart of devoted, passionate people in all of those areas that you just talked about. We’re looking for outcomes in individual lives, which is so, so important. But we’re also looking for outcomes in transformation of national ministries as well, because that’s the future of prison ministry going forward.  

What I’m really excited about is that on both fronts, we have a really wonderful story by the grace of God to tell. Lots and lots of meaningful, really meaningful interventions in people’s lives. Not in the ones and twos, but in the hundreds of thousands of men and women that are graduating our in-prison programs, tens of thousands of families and children that are being supported. But then the national ministries themselves, we’re able to help them in their own capacity building which effectively positions them for greater work in the future.  

These are amazing people in some very, very challenging circumstances, mobilizing through those national ministries, about 60,000 volunteers around the world. So it’s a big distribution network of Kingdom good is how I would describe it around the world and I’m just really excited because the doors couldn’t be wider open in front of us. We’ve earned our stripes. I believe we’re a trusted partner by many prison authorities around the world. Our issue is not getting through the gate so much as how fast we can travel and how much we can actually accomplish because there’s definitely huge opportunity and desire for us to do that.  

Dirk Smith 

Yeah, that is the challenge. I get it. We were thrilled to come alongside and that’s really the way we view our ministry is really a come alongside ministry. I’ll never forget the early on conversation, I think it was with Rae [Wood], and she was mentioning the success of the PFI program with scripture engagement. I mean, you guys had actually tracked that and said, “When there is scripture engagement, here’s the outcome.” It was off, I mean, off the charts, just skyrocketed. I thought, “Man, this is a hand in glove relationship.” I mean, we publish, print and distribute Bibles and we work in the nations that you work in. This is exactly the come alongside relationship that we’re looking for.   

It’s been very exciting to look at the different programs and recognize. That’s it. It’s God’s word. You get God’s word in people’s hands, you let the transformation take place in the heart. If we can come alongside a ministry like PFI and the work that’s being done there, the recidivism rate is going to drop significantly. You’re going to see less people going back into prison, which makes for exactly what we’re called to be, as disciples of Jesus, is to step into those uncomfortable places.  

Andy Corley  

Absolutely. I love your phrasing, that come alongside ministry, because that does really define for us exactly what we want in our strategic plan and in our mission, which is: when we figured out that we have a role at PFI to play in being a global accelerator or a global catalyst given the huge distribution network which our national ministries represent and a very willing distribution network at that, what we’re really looking for is those come alongside ministries that enable both organizations to step through an open door. 

I think that is such an exciting opportunity for us, is to work alongside organizations like your own. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You need the access and the distribution network so we get our heads together and figure out how we’re going to do this. It just becomes a win-win, a kingdom win-win. 

Dirk Smith 


Andy Corley 

It’s great. Everybody loves it.  

Dirk Smith 

Yeah. For me, Andy, it puts forth what we all should be saying. You hear the saying, but unfortunately, as I have gotten into nonprofit work, and this is about my 20th year in nonprofit, people will use the phrase and say, “There’s no competition amongst lighthouses.” But yet I’ve found sometimes they don’t really believe that and they want to put themselves forward. I think, “This is all for God. This is His work. If we can step into this with PFI, here’s a great organization. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s let them do what they do best and we’ll do what we do best and it’ll prevent them from having to go out and buy Bibles and materials we can provide them because that’s what we do best!” and then that lets you all step into what you do.  

So it’s a very good partnership. I’m excited about the different nations that we’ve got listed where you’re doing work and honestly, as we’ve looked at and we’ve done a five-year strategic plan with you all looking at the growth over the next five years. Of course, what I’m anxious to hear are the stories. I love to hear the life stories. Ah, they just never cease to amaze me to hear how God transforms a life. You just sit back and it makes you say, “Man, we worship a God who not can do more than we ask or imagine. He’s doing it.” He’s just asking us if we want to come along, if we want to join him. 

Andy Corley 

That’s right. It’s not only the stories, but then how God transforms lives and then moves people into places that they could never imagine themselves being in, having formerly been incarcerated. We have a number of national ministry leaders that were formerly in prison, and we love that because that’s true transformation, but many of our volunteers have also spent time inside and just God places in their hearts. I mean imagine that, you spend a significant period of your time in prison, and then you get out, you’re enjoying your freedom and the very thing that you want to do is to go back inside prison because of your own experience and share the Good News of Jesus, who has transformed their lives and now they want to share that. 

We just have a ton of stories of that type, too many, obviously, for this program, but I’ve got a couple that I’d just love to share with you. One is a gentleman who I met in Ndola, Zambia, called Bernard. Bernard had basically graduated every program in prison that we were offering in Zambia. He very proudly came to me with all the certificates. We celebrate the graduation from our discipleship and evangelism programs. We call them graduations for a very good reason. In almost all cases, when they graduate a program, they’ll get a certificate and they’ll get a copy of the Scriptures, which is where EEM comes in. 

We love that model because it’s honoring them. Bernard brought all these certificates out to show me as evidence of how he’d used his time when he’d been in prison and my name is always on those certificates, but for some reason, and this was very unusual, it had not been signed, so I was able to say, “Bernard, this is me,” and was able to sign it there. Somebody had a pen. I mean, we were in rural Zambia. I was able to sign it with him and celebrate what had happened in his own life. He’d been inside for five years.  

What was wonderful was that at the same time as him graduating those programs in prison, we had looked after his family of five. He very proudly displayed his kids. We’d had them in our children of prisoners program and they were all doing really well. What was even more beautiful was to hear him then say, “I now live to do two things. One is to take care of my family.” And he was doing that through sustainable gardening that PF [Prison Fellowship] Zambia was helping him with but secondly, he was now offering himself as a volunteer back in the prisons for the programs that he had graduated from. We got a beautiful video of that but I’ll never forget that interaction with Bernard just because it was so real. He was [part of] a family that not just the father had come through his incarceration in a way that was completely transformational for him, but also for his family as well. Just very, very beautiful. Like I say, we’ve just got so many stories of that kind, but that one was a special one for me. 

Dirk Smith 

Yeah. That’s fantastic. Fantastic. Just the story of redemption, reconciliation, redemption. That’s it. That’s the Gospel and nowhere played out any more visibly than in the work that you’re involved in. In all of our lives, that’s the power of the Gospel is that it doesn’t rely on me and His grace is there. I look back on my life, we all can look back on our lives and say, “Man, I’m glad. I’m so thankful for God’s grace.” But so visible in their lives. It’s very biblical to who’s forgiven, they’re going to forgive. I mean, they’re going to have that power, that feeling of forgiveness and reconciliation and that come alongside attitude of PFI to say, “Hey, you got this. You can do this and we’re gonna help you through this process.” The partners that you are developing, the discipleship that’s happening is fantastic.  

Andy Corley 

Psalm 68 gives us a real window into the character of God. It talks about God in His holy habitation is defender of the widow and father to the fatherless. It’s giving us an insight into what God is like. My own translation of that in His holy habitation is God, when He is at home, is defender of the widow, father to the fatherless. He places the lonely in families. He leads the prisoner to prosperity. What I love about this, and it’s what attracted me to PFI in the first instance, was we should not be surprised that this mission is so close to the heart of God. The first time Jesus stands up in His in a synagogue and announces His kingdom mandate, He arguably mentions the prisoner twice.  

Now I’m all for every interpretation that we can get out of that, whether it’s a spiritual interpretation, because we’re all prisoners of one type or another. Given the way that He bookends His ministry when He says, “When I was in prison, you came to me,” I cannot believe that it excludes prisoners who are genuine prisoners, not just the prisoners that we all are until we get set free. 

So for us, this is ministry that really is close to the character and the heart of God and teaches us something that we all benefit from: the astounding, unconditional love and grace of God and the prisoner represents that to us. Somebody once said that basically the prisoner is Jesus in disguise. That’s really something to think about. I am so privileged to get to meet these men and women. I often say that we don’t take Jesus into the prisons; we just follow him in and we meet him there.  

Dirk Smith 

Amen. Yeah. I’ve said forever and that same passage, I’ve always been struck by the fact that Jesus, when He starts His ministry, he’s handed Isaiah the scroll, but He knows where he’s going. He knows exactly where he’s going because Scripture tells us, “He finds the Spirit of the Lord is on me because He is anointing me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim and release the captives, prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind to set free the oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then what does He stop? 

Of course, when He quotes Isaiah there, what does He stop? He stops the vengeance. They were looking for an earthly king to come back and be that powerhouse and He stops it. He leaves that part off and it’s, “Let’s take care of the people and here’s who we’re taking care of.” That’s great. 

Andy Corley 

It’s true. If I could add to that as well, a story that we will all know really well, which is when Jesus goes across the Sea of Galilee. He gets His disciples in a boat and He says, “We’re going to the other side.” What happens on that journey, as we all know this story really, really well, is that the wind and the waves arose and the disciples get freaked out by it. Jesus is asleep. I’d always been taught and it’s a good lesson, no problem with this at all, that the point of that story is Jesus’ mastery over the elements. Of course, that’s absolutely true and thank God for it. But, the reason that they were going to the other side of the lake was because there was a man on the other side that we know as the demon possessed man of Gadarenes, who is very clear was a prisoner. He had guards and he was in chains. There was a purpose to that journey. I think that that is really interesting for us to contemplate that the reason that that was happening in the first instance was Jesus knew that there was somebody who needed to be set free, who was a prisoner, a physical prisoner. 

But then that man, when Jesus sorts him out in the most dramatic way, you’ll recall he wants to follow Jesus, he wants to become one of His disciples and Jesus says, “No, you got to go back to your home community. That’s what I want you to do. Go back to your family. Go back to your community and be transformational light there.”  

That’s the vision that we have, whether it’s PFI, whether it’s our national ministries or whether it’s the hundreds of other amazing organizations that are working in this space, because we’re in competition with nobody. I love your analogy of the lighthouses. We all have a part to play in this kind of thing, but we have so many stories of men and women as well that go back into their communities and from that point on, their lives are changed and they’re ambassadors of Christ and ambassadors of His kingdom. It worked back then and it’s still working today.  

Dirk Smith 

Yeah, that’s exactly right. It worked back then and that’s the model that He set up. That’s what He established. He said, “This is the way it’s going to work.” You see the woman at the well. She’s the first evangelist that goes into her community. He sends her and says, “Go. Leave your life of sin, but I don’t condemn you.” She goes in and she starts talking about Jesus, “There’s this guy. He’s gotta be the Messiah. Come see him.” We see her interaction and they believe because of what she says, but then they want to find out on their own. Isn’t that our journey? I’m going to believe because somebody presents Jesus to me, it pricks my heart and then I want to find out on my own. I want to dig. 

That’s what we’re getting to partner. You guys are in there side-by-side. We’re able to provide the Bibles in these areas to help them to dig. As they open up the Scriptures, their lives begin being transformed by the power of the Spirit. Now, there’s other disciples who are going to go out into their communities – to use your terminology, which I think is just so spot on. You think about their communities. Who’s best to talk to their community? Them.  

That’s why I love the fact that you work with indigenous people. We do the same thing. We don’t have printing presses. We put their people to work. When we’re distributing in Ukraine, we’re printing in Ukraine. We put their people to work and we work with the indigenous people. Who better to go in and open doors than the people who live in that community?  They’re going to be the ones that open the doors.  

Andy Corley 

Absolutely and that’s a biblical model in its own right as well, isn’t it? We’ve got to trust the story and The One whose story it is. Secondly, we’ve got to trust the model, which is that when the Holy Spirit lives within a person or persons in community, then, in so many ways, that is better. Trusting that process, which is God in them in their own context, is the model that has become the one that we have adopted. 

It’s why capacity building is so important to us, because actually what we’re trying to do is put breeze behind our brothers and sisters backs. We’re trying to put an arm around their shoulder and assist them in their God given calling. We’re not trying to do this for them. In the same way that you’re in partnership with us, we’re in partnership with them because we believe that that is the right way going forward. That’s how we all grow is when we’re working together in this amazing community, which has a King and a savior over it.  

Dirk Smith 

Isn’t it magnificent that we’re part of such a huge kingdom, Andy? It’s massive. Here we are in America, you’re in England and there’s a massive globe that has one King. What a humbling privilege and honor it is to share the message of that King, wherever we go. To be able to carry that torch. To me, that is a huge responsibility. 

People look at me and they say, “Man, you travel a lot. You’re going a lot. How do you do this?” I tell people, “For the first time in my life, I don’t have a job. I just don’t have a job. It’s a calling. I have to.” When we get these requests from people, and you mentioned this earlier, the challenges, we’ve got some of the same challenges. How do we get to all the requests? 

Our requests, our distribution rose 28% last year in one year. As you all know, when you’re an organization that you don’t sell anything, you don’t have revenue. That’s a challenge, but we’re just reminded over and over by God that this is not about us. It’s not about what we’re doing. It’s His because He provides. He provides the funds and we saw the income come in last year as it was needed to open these doors. It’s staggering, humbling, exciting to see the desire for God’s word in so many places and coming alongside you all has opened up another great opportunity and just an exciting one for us. It’s fun to be a part of this with you all.  

Brooke Kehl 

I’ve been so excited to hear about this partnership because for me, it’s tied to just how the Lord wants to expand our vision for what He wants to do. I see that with your work too, and with PFI, I can’t think of a better organization that represents the type of heart that we want to partner with. Like you spoke to, a heart that’s close to the heart of God. There’s just so many, all of these stories, I know it’s probably the same for you, but we have the privilege to hear these stories all the time that I feel like it has done so much for my faith personally.  

I was just curious, how has being a part of this ministry impacted you personally, being able to be on the front lines of hearing all of these encouraging stories that we have an honor to tell and share about the transformation going on?  

Andy Corley 

Yeah, that’s such a great question. I do believe that working in this role alongside prisoners, families, victims has changed me more than I think that I have been able to contribute, partly because of the people that I’ve met and the ways that my own vision has been expanded in exactly the way that Dirk was talking about. We serve a God who is…this is His universe. He is the King over this universe. In the work that we’re able to do, we get a front line seat at some amazing things that God is doing in our day. That would be number one. 

Number two is just hanging around passionate people. I often say that PFI members and our volunteers, we’re like the happiest people on the planet. It’s a tough area to serve in, but there’s a joy about it. I do think that’s because we are encountering the image of God in people that are very quickly written off by society and sometimes by others. That’s changed me as well.  

The third area would just be this expanded understanding of who God is and His character and His passion. It’s kind of a no person left behind policy, which I do think prison ministry represents. It’s one of the expressions of that, that He leads the prisoners to prosperity. Those that everybody else has written off, God saves. We’re mandated as followers of Christ to do something about those communities, the Matthew 25 communities. I think that I have grown by the grace of God more than I have contributed. I’m grateful for that. I can’t say it any other way.  

One last thing, which was provoked by an earlier comment through this podcast to your listeners today, many of whom I’m sure will be patrons. I’d just like to say a massive thank you because we can’t do our work effectively. We are the downstream recipients of the blessing that they have been to EEM. EEM, in turn, is being a blessing to us. At the end of it is an unreached people group that lies close to the heart of God. I’d just like to say a massive thank you to your donors and the people who are listening because you may never meet these people, at least not yet, but they really exist. They’re very real people and their lives are getting transformed in the same way that our lives have been transformed by Jesus as the living word and through His written word. That’s what’s happened to us and that’s what’s happening to hundreds of thousands of men and women in the prisons of the world. 

Dirk Smith 

Amen. Yeah. I say to our team all the time, “This isn’t about us. This is about God, but we’re being invited in to have a front row seat, to use your terminology.” I’ve said that same thing. We get a front row seat to see this great work that He’s doing and it is. Even for you all, for us, for our donors, for the people who are involved in the end. The beautiful thing about this ministry, and I think the same for PFI, is oftentimes you’ll never know you’re planting a seed. You’ll never know and I think that’s exactly the way God intends for that to happen.  

I share with people that we’re in the parable of the sower business. We just need help buying seed. When Jesus tells that parable – I’m so in love with Jesus. I’m in love with His master storytelling, the absolute master storyteller – when He tells a story, everything is intentional. Every piece of it is very intentional. When He tells that parable, He says very little about the sower. That’s the one character in that parable that gets the least attention. All He says is he went out and sowed the seed. That’s all he was required to do. Just sow the seed and leave it alone. “I’ll do the rest. I’ve got this.” That’s where we help provide the seed. You guys are sowing it. Other people are watering. God’s causing that increase. The beautiful thing is we can never, Andy Corley, all of PFI, Dirk Smith, Brooke Kiel, all of EEM, can never pat ourselves on the back and say, “Wow, look what we did.” No, no, no. Everything that happens says loud and clear, “Look what God is doing. Look at this amazing God that we serve.” Just fall in awe, hit your knees in awe of what he’s doing.  

When you see it happen in the lives of people – I love some of your terminology – the people that the world says, “They’re not worth it. Don’t waste your time.” Some people would actually go to Scripture and say, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine.” Are you kidding me? Look at that Scripture. Jesus is talking about just the opposite. He’s telling us those are the people you go serve. He was saying that about the Pharisees. It’s that type of ministry that I think is so near and dear to the heart of Jesus. 

From day one, He said, “These are my people. Those are my people. Go love them.” Yeah, it’s going to be messy. You better believe it’s going to be messy because people are messy. Lives are messy, but get in there, roll your sleeves up and get to work. I just appreciate you all and I appreciate your leadership. I just want to tell you thank you because I know, having gone through this myself, it’s a decision to leave secular, for-profit business. There’s a lot of fun that comes with that building. I’m a builder, of that mindset as well. It’s fun to take something and grow it. 

So to follow what God put in your heart and to follow that nudge by the Spirit, to say, “Okay, not only am I going to get on this Board, am I going to get to know this organization?” But then when the opportunity arose, you didn’t have to do what you did. As you tell your story, there are a lot of decisions in there. Those were decisions that you and your lovely bride, I guarantee was right by your side, in those decisions saying, “Yeah, this is good. Let’s go ahead. Sell your shares. Let’s get out of this.” When the tap on the shoulder came, “Hey, Andy. Would you consider being the CEO of PFI?” I want to say I admire and respect and really appreciate someone with your business acumen stepping into an organization like that and saying, “Yes. I’m going to continue glorifying God.” You were glorifying God before and obviously to our donors that are listening, people who have the gift to make money are a huge blessing if they recognize it’s really not theirs. So much good can be done with it. I appreciate you stepping into that space because I know that’s a big decision.  

Andy Corley  

I really appreciate that dirk and genuinely i do thank you. We’re really greatful to be in partnership with you guys. Thank you for your compliments about our team as well. They’re the most wonderufl bpeople.  There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve been blessed far more than I deserve and it’s a genuine privledge to be in the role that I am at PFI and to have those wonderful people allow me to lead them is just great so thank you. I really apprecaite it.  

Dirk Smith 

I can echo that statement. I feel that on a regular basis. I look at our team here in the U.S., I look at the team in Europe and if I had any questions that this was God’s ministry, all I’d have to do is look at our team and go, “Only God could pull this team together,” because it is an amazing group of people. Thank you for your time this afternoon for you, this morning for us. We really appreciate it. I could continue this conversation and may get back over there next year, probably would be in September. I might come your way so I might give you a holler and see if you’re in country and maybe we could get together.  

Andy Corley 

I would look forward to it, Dirk, and maybe if there’s an opportunity at some point to do a revisit on this and report on our partnership togethera t some point down the line, that would be great too because one of the great things is sharing the stories and the testimony of impact that we’ll be able to achieve together so that would be a privilege. 

Dirk Smith 

Yeah, I’d love to do that. In fact, that’s kind of a standard question to ask. We’d love to have you back on so you covered that for me. I would love to revisit towards the end of the year even, maybe fourth quarter of the year to have you back on and say, “Hey, let’s talk about some stories. Let’s talk about some of the deliveries that have taken place and where they’ve gone and get some stories.” Thank you again, brother. Appreciate you so much.  

Brooke Kehl 

Thank you so much. 

Dirk Smith 

Look forward to our ongoing relationship.  


Thank you, Dirk. Thanks, Brooke. Really appreciate it. 

Asia Pacific Regional Forum 2024


Prison Fellowship International’s (PFI) 2024 Asia Pacific Regional Forum took place from February 27-29, 2024 at Prison Fellowship Singapore’s Community Hub. 62 delegates representing 20 countries participated in the forum. Among these nations, 14 National Ministries and 3 prospective Chartered Affiliates were represented.

Gathering under the overarching theme of Leading for Greater Impact, delegates were reminded of the importance of effective leadership and out-of-the-box solutions in navigating the complexities of our time. The forum objectives were clear: 

Delegates not only gleaned key learnings from the insightful sessions but found meaning in prayer and fellowship among likeminded peers. 

Forum Events 

On the first day of the forum, Andy Corley and Timothy Khoo, current and former Prison Fellowship International President and CEO respectively, spoke about Biblical leadership and emphasized the importance of placing trust in God at every juncture. This was followed by a presentation on Prison Fellowship Singapore’s Integrated Ministry Strategy, which brings together In-Care, Aftercare and Family Care in their ministry approach. Voice For Prisoners, a Hong Kong-based non-profit, shared how its advocacy efforts has raised awareness on drug mules in drug hot spots.

Prison Fellowship International President and CEO, Andy Corley, shares about Biblical leadership with forum delegates.

Day two focused on developing partnerships to achieve a holistic approach in transforming the lives of prisoners. Participants gained insights from our speakers Eddie Tan (Board Member, Faith Comes By Hearing Asia), Jason Wong (Founder, Yellow Ribbon Project) and Joseph See (CEO, Agape Connecting People), highlighting the value of Kingdom partnerships to expand impact in local contexts. Roundtable discussions around the topics of rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation facilitated in-depth discussions on critical themes. These discussions were led by Reverend Tobias Brandner (Professor of Theology at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr. Sreenivasa Rao (Inspector General of Prison, Andhra Pradesh India), Siew Lin Poh (Director of Community Development, Malaysian Care) and Samuel Lim (Coordinator of Community Development, Malaysian Care), and Tobias Merckle (Executive Chairman, Prison Fellowship Germany).

Panel discussions provided an opportunity for forum delegates to hear from a range of experts from a variety of organizations.

On the third and final forum day, delegates visited Singapore Changi Prison and the largest Christian halfway house in Singapore, The Helping Hand. Those who visited the prison learned about Singapore Prison Service’s rehabilitation approach and toured the accommodation facilities and Visual Arts Hub. Others who went to The Helping Hand learned about their reintegration approach and experienced work training facilities for ex-prisoners.

Forum delegates visit The Helping Hand, Singapore’s largest Christian halfway home that transforms the lives of ex-offenders.

A private dinner on the last night of the forum served as an occasion for PFI President and CEO Andy Corley, PFI Board Vice Chair Mason Tan and PFI Asia Pacific Regional Director Daniel Bey to engage with supporters in meaningful conversations. Attendees were afforded the opportunity to glean insights into PFI’s trajectory through Andy’s sharing on the impact that the organization has had and the journey ahead. Additionally, Sabun Ou and Visal Soun from Prison Fellowship Cambodia shared about program and capacity building partnerships which shed valuable perspectives on collaborative endeavours within PFI’s global network. The event acquainted new individuals with PFI’s mission and initiatives while fostering enduring relationships with established supporters. Such interactions served as the cornerstone for cultivating sustained patronage and collaborative partnerships in the future.


This forum would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship from Far East Organization and like-minded donors, and collaboration with partner organizations including Faith Comes By Hearing and Prison Fellowship Singapore (Host Office), and our faithful volunteers. Overall, forum participants were blessed in both knowledge and relationships through this event. Delegates shared that they, “learned so much over the few days” and found that there was a “good balance of information and collaboration.”  

Forum participants gleaned key learnings during the event and built relationships with other National Ministries in the region.

The Prisoner’s Journey Reaches Milestone Anniversary

Organization celebrates 10 years and nearly 800,000 prisoners’ lives transformed through The Prisoner’s Journey

December 15, 2023 – WASHINGTON, DC – Prison Fellowship International’s flagship in-prison program, The Prisoner’s Journey® (TPJ) has reached its 10-year anniversary. This program, launched in South Africa and Nigeria in 2014, now runs in 35 countries across six continents. TPJ takes those in prison on a journey of self-discovery through the Gospel of Mark where they encounter Jesus the prisoner to learn who He is, why He came and what it means to follow Him. 

Since inception, more than 1,600,000 prisoners in nearly 900 prisons around the world have been invited to learn about Jesus through TPJ. Of those, 772,379 have accepted the invitation, continued through the eight-week course and made a commitment to Christ through program graduation. Nearly 70% of those who complete TPJ demonstrate true heart conversion by continuing on to participation in another evangelism or discipleship course, a strong indicator of lasting life change.  

“Many prisoners want to change but don’t know how. Their incarceration (or too often, re-incarceration) is a tangible, public reminder of their failures,” said Andrew Corley, Prison Fellowship International President and Chief Executive Officer. “However, the pain that accrues in their hearts can propel them to try new things, like accepting an invitation to join The Prisoner’s Journey. The Gospel message and hope that they discover through the program often results in transformation that affects them, their families, and ultimately, communities when they re-enter society.” 

Qualitative stories shared from around the world demonstrate how TPJ impacts those who participate. Alfred, a graduate from Côte d’Ivoire, had been involved in criminal activity in and out of prison. After completing the course, he said, “My life has completely changed. Reading the Gospel of Mark brought me the good news of Jesus and changed my mentality.” Alfred has since accepted Christ, agreeing to walk with Jesus and obey His word. “I am a living witness of God’s goodness, grace and mercy,” he said.  

Quantitative data has also proven that TPJ changes lives. Research conducted by Baylor University found that TPJ participation increases religious engagement, virtuosity and a sense of meaning in life. It also decreases negative emotional states and aggression. Other Prison Fellowship International surveys have found that prisoners receive 87% more family visits and commit 49% fewer violent acts after participating in the program. Spiritually, prisoners are six times more likely to pray once a day or more after completing TPJ. 

Prison Fellowship International also celebrates its strategic partnership with Christianity Explored Ministries, a collaborator on source content and dozens of program trainings. Bible League InternationalAmerican Bible Society and Eastern European Mission have also been integral members of this global team, providing hundreds of thousands of Bibles to prisoners in their heart languages as part of this program. 

“In 2014, there was no way to know the magnitude of what the decision to partner would mean,” said Ian Roberts, Christianity Explored Ministries Chief Executive. “There was hope, there was vision–we were expectant. But how God has moved through this program to reach millions is truly something only He could do.” 

Across the 35 countries that currently run TPJ, program courses are delivered in 16 languages. Countries include Argentina, Albania, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Over the next five years, nearly 1.1 million incarcerated men and women will be invited to participate in the program with an expected more than 700,000 of them joining the journey. Following current discipleship trends, approximately 500,000 program graduates are expected to continue with faith-based programming. 

The culmination of TPJ’s impact on prisoners around the world is captured in this video 


About Prison Fellowship International
Since 1979, Prison Fellowship International has helped prisoners experience transformation from the inside out through the power of the Gospel. Its mission is to transform the lives of prisoners, their families and victims through a global network of ministry partners.  

CONTACT: Ella Cueva, 703-554-8670, [email protected]

Human Flourishing and Justice Partnership Symposium

On October 26, 2023, representatives from Prison Fellowship International, Pepperdine University, Prison Fellowship Colombia, the Colombian National Penitentiary and Prison Institute and the Colombian Senate presented an exciting new partnership between them regarding a multi-year study in Colombia’s prison system to measure the efficacy of international prison programming in offender rehabilitation, recidivism reduction and general correctional reform. 

Since 1979, Prison Fellowship International has helped prisoners experience transformation from the inside out through the healing power of the Gospel. Its mission is to transform the lives of prisoners, their families and victims through a global network of ministry partners.

Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University is an independent, Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in scenic Malibu, California. Pepperdine is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.

Prison Fellowship Colombia has been active in prison ministry for over 20 years, with access to over 83% of the nation’s prisoners through a portfolio of ministry programs for prisoners, their families, and crime victims. 

The National Penitentiary and Prison Institute of Colombia (INPEC) is a central government institution that is responsible for the incarceration, development and rehabilitation of prisoners, along with the administration of the country’s penitentiary system.  

Press Conference Speaker Recap

To kick off the press conference, Pepperdine University President Jim Gash shared about the Center for Faith and the Common Good, the university’s academic home for scholarly investigations of how faith and religion impact flourishing, under which this research and study is being conducted. As a platform to integrate scholarship, student engagement and global impact, the center develops innovative ideas with scholars and leaders to send out brilliant leaders of faith, character, courage and creativity.

Learn from President Gash about how Pepperdine University is fulfilling its vision through this partnership:

El Presidente Gash nos explica cómo la Universidad Pepperdine está haciendo realidad su visión a través de esta asociación:

Prison Fellowship International President and CEO Andy Corley then expressed his excitement for the partnership, as it represents a giant leap forward in accomplishing the organization’s vision to break the cycle of crime.

Prison Fellowship Colombia is one of Prison Fellowship International’s most successful national ministries, as they reach over 20% of the prison population, marking a tipping point. They also work outside of prison with families. Both of these are vital aspects of breaking the cycle of crime, which is why Colombia was chosen as the initial study location.

Andy often gets asked how Prison Fellowship International programs affect recidivism. The answer? There isn’t any empirical data to reach a conclusion. This is why this project, and the data collection that comes with it, is so important.

Listen in as Andy shares about the prospect of collecting strong data: 

Escucha lo que Andy nos cuenta sobre la posibilidad de recopilar datos sólidos:

A pre-recorded video of Colombian Senator Lorena Ríos Cuéllar demonstrated her gratitude to each organization for enabling the study of Colombian prisoners. She emphasized the Colombian Senate’s commitment to ensuring successful implementation of this study. Understanding that rehabilitation is crucial for prisoner transformation, the study’s findings will help create projects and legislative initiatives aimed at making rehabilitation the standard, not the exception, in Colombian detention centers.

Dr. Sung Joon Jang, visiting scholar at Pepperdine University, shared an overview and some details of the complex project, including:

Dr. Byron Johnson, co-executive director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Faith and the Common Good, added to the details, mentioning the one-of-a-kind integrated database being created with data collection. By tracking prisoners while studying their family and children, puzzle pieces will come together that help explain how people can live crime free, a question that’s never been answered until now. These findings begin to unfold a giant laboratory in Colombia.

Hear Dr. Johnson’s thoughts on the global impact that this study could have:

Escuche la opinión del Dr. Johnson sobre el impacto global que podría tener este estudio:

Via Zoom, Colonel Daniel Gutierrez, general director of the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute, shared how honored they are to participate in such an important project that involves multiple academic and ministry members. The government is viewing this as a humanization process, for both prison guards and prisoners.

“Over the next two years, we are dedicated to creating a solid database that will serve as an example for other countries who will do projects like this moving forward.”

Prison Fellowship Colombia Executive Director Lácides Hernández, who has been dedicated to transforming the lives of prisoners and their families in Colombia for over 35 years, is working to counteract the country’s culture of never-ending, cyclical violence, murder and death. Prison Fellowship International has served as a real inspiration and resource for him, as he has learned how to use multiple tools to work with prisons and prisoners nationally. Both Prison Fellowship International and Prison Fellowship Colombia exist to break the cycle of crime and restore lives, worldwide, though Jesus’ love. Transformation and reconciliation cannot be limited to just the prisoner, which is why both organizations have programming inside and outside the walls of prison.

Listen in as Lácides explains the importance of this project:

Escuche cómo Lácides explica la importancia de este proyecto:

He reiterated that while this study is taking place in Colombia, the results will direct many national ministries all around the world.

Cameron McCollum, administrative director for Pepperdine University’s Center for Faith and the Common Good, rounded out the session by sharing about the work that the university’s Sudreau Global Justice Institute does in their mission to partner with governments around the world to aid them in building the capacity of their justice system, so that all people have timely access to justice. This vision is accomplished through drafting and implementing plea bargains in countries with heavy backlogs, training key stakeholders and advocating for under-resourced individuals.

Hear Cameron’s perspective on potential future collaboration between the institute and Prison Fellowship International:

Escuche el punto de vista de Cameron sobre la posible colaboración futura entre el instituto y Prison Fellowship International:


Interested in learning more? Visit the symposium recap page for full details. 

TOMÁŠ | Czech Republic

Testimony of a New Friendship 

I would like to share with you a real-life story about two friends and the testimony they shared in the chapel of Rýnovice prison. Before I start telling this true story, I have to go back in time to introduce to you the two protagonists and shed some light on their previous lives. The story starts with gossip, hatred, pain and fear, but ends with reconciliation, understanding, cooperation, forgiveness and hope.

Addicted and Harmful

There were once two young men who lived in the same town. They knew about each other but hadn’t met yet. What they had in common was that they were both drug addicts. At some point, they finally met and became friends, although I am not sure you can call a relationship between two addicts a friendship. Anyway, they started spending more time together, selling drugs together and supporting one another.

But, as expected, the drugs eventually took their toll and started tearing them apart, destroying the core of their being. Their characters changed and so did their priorities. They started badmouthing, stealing from and generally hurting each other. I cannot say which of the individuals was worse. They both share the blame for what happened between them. They started hating each other to such an extent that it could not end well. Eventually, revenge and retaliation followed. It went so far that one of them contributed to the other ending up in prison. And even then, they hadn’t stopped. The one who was not in prison continued to do bad things to the other one until he too ended up in prison!

Even though they landed up in different prisons, the hatred didn’t stop. They both spent their evenings thinking about how they would get back at each other when they got out.

Crossing Paths

Back then, they had no idea that their paths would cross sooner than they imagined. They would end up standing side by side, face to face in the same prison. What none of them could imagine actually happened. And so, they crossed paths once more, and it happened in the strangest place one could ever imagine. That place was the chapel of Rýnovice prison, and they met because they both, independent of each other, decided to enroll in the program called The Prisoner’s Journey®.

I think that on the day they met again, they both had very mixed feelings about what was going to happen and doubts about where it was going to lead. But God wanted their paths to cross again, and they even ended up sitting next to each other in the chapel. As they sat there, they started sharing their lives again, explaining each other’s point of view, and most of all, apologizing to each other.

The idea of forgiveness started taking shape.

Finding Reconciliation and Forgiveness

With each subsequent meeting, their relationship flourished. They started cooperating and reading the Gospel of Mark together. They watched videos of bad deeds that ended in compassion and hope. They even drew the scene of the Last Supper, which is all about betrayal but also forgiveness. Instead of war, peace entered their lives. Out of hatred came a new, true and pure friendship—a friendship without drugs. They promised each other they would no longer pursue revenge once they were released. In fact, they were quite sad that the program was ending.

Not only did they find out about the Lord Jesus and the reasons why He came to the world, but they also resolved a long-standing conflict between them, forgave each other and became friends again.

Everything written above is true because I was one of the two friends!

MATTHEW | Liberia

Matthew was born into a Christian household, surrounded by the familiar rituals of faith and attending church with his family. However, as he traversed the tumultuous path of adolescence and entered adulthood, the allure of the world tugged at his heartstrings, gradually luring him away from his spiritual roots. He distanced himself from the church, seeking solace in the fleeting pleasures of life.

“In the five or six years before I entered prison, I stopped going to church,” Matthew confessed, reflecting on his journey.

The once-vibrant flame of his faith dimmed, casting shadows of doubt upon his soul. As he found himself confined within the bleak walls of a prison, anger swelled within him, fueled by the perceived injustice of his circumstances. “Why did God allow me to suffer for something that wasn’t my fault?” he bitterly pondered, wrestling with his shattered trust.

His friends, who had enrolled in The Prisoner’s Journey®, extended a lifeline of hope. They urged him to join them, their words brimming with excitement. “You should come, Matthew,” they implored, their voices carrying the echoes of transformation. The first class left them awe-inspired, eager to share their newfound insights with their incarcerated friend.

Intrigued by their tales of personal growth and captivated by the videos of prisoners from distant lands, Matthew hesitantly agreed to participate. Little did he know that this reluctant step would mark the beginning of his own remarkable journey toward redemption.

Through The Prisoner’s Journey, Matthew found his mind and heart unfettered, liberated from the shackles of anger and resentment.

“I am free now, even though I am still behind bars,” he joyfully proclaimed.

The burdens he had carried for so long were surrendered to a higher power, as he learned to trust in the process of healing and forgiveness. The program had touched him deeply, prompting Matthew to remark, “The Prisoner’s Journey has really changed my life for good.” He reveled in the newfound freedom that blossomed within his soul, an inner transformation that defied the confines of his physical surroundings. Inspired by the profound impact of the program, Matthew resolved to become a course leader himself, driven by a heartfelt desire to guide and uplift his fellow prisoners.

“I am so grateful for how The Prisoner’s Journey has changed my life,” he gratefully declared, his voice resonating with a profound sense of purpose. Matthew had journeyed through the depths of despair, emerging on the other side with a renewed spirit and an unwavering faith in the transformative power of hope.

In the tapestry of Matthew’s story, threads of doubt and anger were woven with strands of redemption and gratitude. The Prisoner’s Journey had become the loom on which his life was rewoven, knitting together the broken pieces of his existence into a tapestry of resilience and spiritual renewal. And as Matthew walked the path of redemption, he discovered that even within the confines of a prison cell, the light of faith could illuminate the darkest corners of his soul.

Transform Prisoners like Matthew

Highlights from The Child’s Journey – May 2023

Without intervention, children of prisoners are susceptible to exploitation, poverty, dropping out of school and criminal activity. Together we can stand in the gap to keep them from falling through the cracks of society and giving them a chance for a brighter future beyond the cycle of crime.

Keep reading to see how together we are helping children of prisoners live safer, healthier lives! 

CAMBODIA | Sharing God’s Word

Click on the video above to see Chhanun reading from his new Bible.

Part of the services provided by The Child’s Journey includes providing each child and their caregiver with age-appropriate Scripture resources in their heart language. More than 500 children in Cambodia and their caregivers have received these precious resources in just the past three months, and they are thrilled to begin exploring God’s Word. For many, this is the first time that they have been able to read the Gospel, as Christians represent a tiny fraction of the population of Cambodia and it can be difficult to find Bibles translated into the language of Khmer. Check out the video above to see Chhanun in Cambodia reading from the book of Genesis in his new Bible!

COLOMBIA | Home Visits

A family in Colombia prays with TCJ staff during a child home visit.

Child home and community visits are key for program implementation and success for children in the program. These quarterly visits are an opportunity for the staff to meet with children and their caregivers, come to a full understanding of their specific needs and interact with other members of the child’s community. During these visits, program staff share their vision and work with the members of the community to promote healthy approaches to released prisoner re-integration. It is common for released inmates and their families to be rejected or even held in contempt within their communities. Interviews and meetings with community members help promote a change in perception about these families. Each quarter, the team in Colombia completes more than 900 child home visits.

MALAWI | School Kit Distribution

Click on the video above to see children in Malawi receiving new school kits!

Every child deserves the chance to learn and grow through education. In the wake of Cyclone Freddy, families have faced new challenges and daily hardship, leaving many children of prisoners in Malawi without basic school supplies or the ability to purchase them. Your support ensures that your sponsored child in Malawi receives resources, tools and the support needed to thrive in school. Earlier this year, the field teams gathered school supplies and backpacks to create school kits that they distributed to children at The Child’s Journey community events and individual home visits. In recent months, the team in Malawi has distributed more than 400 school kits to school-aged children.

RWANDA | A Lifeline For Claudine

Claudine is the mother to five children – four boys and one girl. When her husband was arrested and sent to prison, she was left to care for her children alone. It felt like a nightmare. Her husband had left her physically alone, and because of the shame of his crimes, she felt abandoned by her community as well.

Claudine struggled to care for her children and provide for them, as they were too young to stay alone while she was at work. Claudine was also crushed by the constant reminders of her status in her community. One day, overwhelmed by her emotions of shame and despair, Claudine tried to take her own life. By God’s grace, the sound of her youngest son crying brought her back to reality, and she was not able to go through with it. It was in that moment that Claudine realized it is only God who wipes away her sorrow. Pictured: Claudine (right) with three of her children and a PFI staff member.

TOGO | Supplemental Food Deliveries

A group of children in Togo give a thumbs up after receiving new food supplies.

Children of prisoners are already at a higher risk of poverty and hunger. Having a parent in prison often means that the remaining parent is struggling to be the sole breadwinner of the family. The inflation of the past year has exacerbated this issue by causing the cost of food staples to rise above what many families in Togo can afford. Because of this, the need for supplemental food support increased for the families served by The Child’s Journey. The Prison Fellowship Togo team has distributed life-giving food support to hundreds of children enrolled in the program this year. They often used these distributions to provide additional items such as hygiene kits and school supplies. Such efforts help the children lead healthy lives.

ZAMBIA | Visiting Incarcerated Parent

A group of TCJ children gather outside the bus to visit their incarcerated fathers.

With the easing of most COVID restrictions throughout the country, Prison Fellowship Zambia is once again able to facilitate prison visits for families in The Child’s Journey. For many of the children, this is their first time communicating with their loved one since before the start of the pandemic. The reunions are full of joy and the children treasure the time that they get to spend with their parent. Through such efforts, families can be reunited and encouraged, making it more likely that if the parent is released, they will have a supportive community to return to. This is a key factor in helping prisoners rebuild their lives after incarceration and helping them break the cycle of crime.

Interested in learning more or helping even more children? CLICK HERE.

Preparing for Easter: Walking
with Jesus the Prisoner

As Easter approaches, Christians around the world prepare to celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus. When reflecting on this significant time, it’s important to remember an aspect of Jesus’s life that is often overlooked – His time as a prisoner. Jesus was arrested, falsely accused and tried before being sentenced to death on the cross.

Here at Prison Fellowship International, we believe that no one is excluded from God’s sacrifice of His son dying on the cross, including those who are incarcerated. Through our in-prison programs, The Prisoner’s Journey® and The Listener’s Way, prisoners are introduced to Jesus the prisoner and shown the transformative power of the Gospel. This Easter, let the traditional sites of Jesus’s arrest, imprisonment and death serve as a reminder that hope and redemption can be found even in the darkest of places.

Jesus’s Journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Garden Tomb 

The Garden of Gethsemane

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Paolo Veronese 

Located at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane is the site where Jesus prayed with His disciples before his arrest on the night before His crucifixion. Jesus showed His agony as He asked God for the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him, but demonstrated His willingness to submit to God’s will even though He knew the suffering that awaited Him. 

Biblical References: Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46

House of Caiaphas

The House of Caiaphas by Gustave Doré 

Also known as the high priest’s palace, the House of Caiaphas (or Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas) is the site where Jesus was brought for interrogation and trial after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was at this house where the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, accused Jesus of blasphemy and decided to hand Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. The Bible does not explicitly say Jesus was imprisoned here, but Church tradition says this is one of the places where Jesus was “held” before his trial. 

Biblical References: Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, John 18:12-28, Luke 22:54

The Praetorium  

Christ Leaving the Praetorium by Gustave Doré 

Located in Jerusalem, the Praetorium was the official residence of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and the site of Jesus’s trial after being handed over by the Jewish authorities. Here, Pilate ultimately made the decision to sentence Jesus to death by crucifixion, demonstrating the political nature of Jesus’s trial. Some believe that Jesus was imprisoned in one of the caves underneath the Praetorium. 

Biblical References: Matthew 27:2, Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:1, Mark 15:16-20, John 18:28-40, John 19:1-16

Gabbatha in Aramaic 

The Judgment on the Gabbatha by James Tissot 

Gabbatha was the raised platform where the judgment seat (or bema) was located, near or appended to the Praetorium. This is where Pilate presented Jesus before the crowd and first washed his hands of responsibility for His execution before succumbing to the demands of the crowd to crucify Him. 

Biblical References: John 19:13, Matthew 27:11-26, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-25, John 18:28-19:16

Via Dolorosa 

Christ Collapsing under the Cross by Anonymous 

Also known as the Way of Sorrow or the Way of the Cross, the Via Dolorosa is the path through Jerusalem that Jesus walked while carrying His cross to the site of His crucifixion. The Via Dolorosa is an important pilgrimage site for many Christians, as it is a way to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and remember His suffering and sacrifice. 

Biblical References: Matthew 27:32-33, Mark 15:21-22, John 19:17


Golgotha by Mihály Munkácsy 

Known as Calvary (Place of the Skull), Golgotha is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion that sits outside the walls of Jerusalem. The exact location of Golgotha is uncertain but the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is widely accepted as the location. Here, He who was without sin came to be crucified – a humiliating punishment that Romans imposed as a gruesome, shameful death. As Jesus is being crucified alongside two criminals, one of them taunts Him while the other acknowledges His innocence and asks for mercy. In response, Jesus tells the second criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” With this statement, Jesus demonstrated His love, mercy and power to save. Dying on the cross, Jesus’s life was the ultimate sacrifice made for humanity’s sins and salvation. 

Biblical References: Matthew 27:33-56, Mark 15:22-41, John 19:17-27, Luke 23:32-43

The Garden Tomb 

Preparation of Christ’s Tomb by Vittore Carpaccio 

The Garden Tomb, also known as the Tomb of Christ, is the site of Jesus’s burial after His crucifixion on the cross. Located in a garden near the Damascus Gate in the city walls of Jerusalem, the tomb was donated by Joseph of Arimathea and was carved into rock. Jesus’s burial in the tomb represented the end of His physical life on Earth, but just the beginning of His spiritual resurrection  

Biblical References: Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42

The Transformative Power of Redemption  

Jesus’s journey through these historic sites reminds us that Easter is a time of redemption. His death and resurrection prove that even the darkest of moments can be transformed into something beautiful. Our programs, The Prisoner’s Journey® and The Listener’s Way, demonstrate this transformative power of redemption by engaging prisoners with Jesus. By confronting their past and finding hope for their future in the Gospel, prisoners experience rehabilitation and restoration. Just as these dark sites can be seen as symbols of hope, prisoners can see their incarceration as an opportunity for transformation and growth.

Community Visits With the Prison Fellowship Colombia Team

Christa Hammond
Children’s Program Team
Prison Fellowship International


I am so grateful to have been able to visit our team at Prison Fellowship Colombia (PFC) and see the incredible impact that they are making through The Child’s Journey (TCJ). I am sharing part of my experience with you with the hope that you will join with me in celebrating and praying for this dedicated team.

Our week started at the Prison Fellowship Colombia headquarters where we loaded the supplies for a community lunch and food pack distribution onto a large bus. Alba, the TCJ Program Coordinator for PFC, arranged for us to participate in the community events and join the caseworkers for home visits throughout the day. Once we arrived, we unloaded the bus of all of the supplies that we brought along. Together, with my colleagues and a group of caseworkers, I started the long trek up many flights of stairs to meet with families while the remaining staff stayed behind to start cooking lunch. The chicken stew and rice that was going to be served took four hours to prepare and was cooked in a large pot suspended over an outdoor fire.

The home visits are eye opening, you cannot walk into someone’s home, hear their testimony, see their struggle, pray for them and not leave changed in some way. 

The families shared how TCJ has impacted their lives, how long they’ve been in the program and how grateful they are for the support that is provided physically and spiritually. Many of the families have been in the program for six years and they talked about the tight-knight relationships that they have built with the PFC staff over the years.

The caseworkers care so deeply for each family. The love that they have for these families truly is the love of Jesus. 

During our time together, they were also able to share their concerns with us. Most families struggle with their homes in one form or another and they have concerns about the ability protect their children. The feedback from the families was honest and loving. Because of the great relationships the staff have with the families and the knowledge of TCJ operations, the staff is able to talk to the families when tough subjects need to be discussed concerning program standards. This allows everyone involved to be heard and grow in the program.

The community lunches have enabled PFC to gain the trust and respect of the community. They feed everyone; you do not need to be a TCJ beneficiary to participate. This has allowed the children in TCJ to connect with their peers. It also allows caregivers to meet with other parents in the surrounding community and build a network of care for both them and their child. This helps them to have a support system both within the program and outside of the program that has been built by community gatherings. 

The food pack distribution happened at the end of the event. All TCJ families were able to take home a month’s worth of food. The packs consist of lentils, meat, juices, rice, crackers, eggs, and cookies. Food distribution plays a key role in ensuring the children are well nourished. This impacts one of the “key result areas” that are tracked through The Child’s Journey and it was an honor to be a part of one of these important events.

This experience allowed me to see how The Child’s Journey is excelling in Colombia and providing essential services throughout communities and families affected by crime. I am grateful to my colleagues, the field teams, and the dedicated sponsors and supporters who make this life-changing program possible for vulnerable children of prisoners. May God bless you all.


Click here to check out a short video of the day’s events!

See children available for sponsorship HERE.