Best practices are specific, discrete ministry activities that measurably increase program scale, effectiveness, and/or efficiency, and can be replicated by other National Ministries. Best practices should be supported by evidence (data).
By developing strong partnerships with local organizations and governments, we are tapping into the strengths of one another. While we may have different goals and mandates, we need one another to strive. PF National Ministries can be nimble and flexible and pilot new initiatives; however, we need the support of governments to scale, especially in the correctional system. Governments can leverage the support of NGOs to innovate and enhance accountability.
1. Human Resources
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Restorative justice practices are essential for Prison Fellowship International (PFI) to realize our vision of breaking the cycle of crime and restoring lives, worldwide, through Jesus’s love.
My family tree has a long line of musicians. Not that talented, but there all the same.
It could be said of me that I had a promising guitar career cut tragically short by a chronic lack of talent. It is true I was better on the trombone, but who falls in love with a trombone player when you’re a teenager?
I blame it on my uncle Ken (a good trombone player), who at the age of 12 sat me down and in a thick Yorkshire accent said, ‘listen to this lad …its real.’ It was.
The ‘it’ was Dreamer by Supertramp, and I had never heard anything like it. Even today, it transports me back to glorious Nostalgia-land.
So, fast forward to 2010, and I was hooked again. This time, my sons introduced me to a band called Foals, in the early stages of their formation. We saw them three times on stage, they were that good. So good we all wondered whether they would actually make it commercially.
I’m pleased to say they did.
Pound for pound, they are probably sampled more than any other band I know in sports programming in the UK. And they have gotten better and better.
But I digress. My first introduction to their music grabbed my attention because of my (and clearly their) love of guitar ‘harmonics,’ and the fact that they so beautifully crafted a song around them. Additionally, the song was titled ‘Olympic Airways,’ which always reminds me of home and good places, and they had a drummer whose physical energy was off all normal people’s fitness charts and probably the VO2 scores of some athletes, too.
But it was a line in ‘Olympic Airways’ that spoke to me most clearly and visually. (Which is what poets aim to do, right? To create imagery through words and help us to see something in a different way.)
… Our one hand clap is me…and you…and you…and you…
It is a brilliant poetic line capturing how things that are impossible on our own can be, possibly can only be, accomplished in cooperation with others, reminding me of a maxim: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go long, go together.
This is part of the reason why our volunteers are so crucially important and why our strategy focuses, through you, on encouraging you to invite more of them to come to HIS party. It is not utilitarian thinking; it is biblical. People together in community has always been God’s way. There is a place for leadership, but only a blind fool would ignore the major emphasis of God on codependency and cooperation as well.
Furthermore, He promises His blessing on this kind of living:
‘How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony. For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard….And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.’ — Psalm 133 (NLT)
Cooperatively living together is intentional and challenging. It is not served at all by the critics on the sidelines (as a former U.S. President famously articulated*), but by those who get stuck in – with dust and sweat and blood.
And those “brothers” and “sisters” come in all shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds, and talents. Let it be shouted from the rooftops of our PFI family: Everyone has a part to play. Volunteers (inside and outside of prison), staff, board members, strategic partners, financial partners, and leaders.
To all you ‘faithful servants’ taking Jesus’s words in Matthew 25 seriously and doing something about it, we salute you. You are appreciated. You are PFI. Let it also be shouted from our PFI rooftops that we want to grow. It’s a good thing. More people will be blessed, and the Lord commends that kind of desire.
There is white harvest ready for working together, which He commands us to attend to. “What matters is faith expressing itself through love” is what Paul the apostle wrote. We go because we must. We go well because we can.
Furthermore, we can all take God’s words of promise of empowerment in Psalm 133 and elsewhere to the relational bank of eternity – in prayer – and cash the cheque. We can do it in the knowledge that God is relationship and God is love. Three in one. And that the good news is this: King Jesus is on the throne forever. Nothing and no one will thwart Him nor His kingdom purposes. He has started it and He will surely finish it. And possibly the most amazing thing of all is that human beings ARE His kingdom purpose. He is for us and all those he has created. 100%. The cross proved it.
Olympic Airways finishes with this:
Sun down now we have built our place. An aviary Forever. An aviary Forever. Forever. Forever.
*“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
—President Theodore Roosevelt