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Beyond the Bars Blog

The Person In Front of You

When seminarian Brad Given first got involved with prison ministry this year, he found he had to “deprogram” the ideas he had about prisoners from the media. “Media portrayals are understandably very negative because someone may commit a crime and is unrepentant,” says Given, who is a third-year student at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Why Peter and Christina are part of Matthew 25:36 Fellowship

When Peter and Christina became Orthodox a few years ago, they brought over an element of their Protestant upbringing: they are committed to tithing. Peter and Christina, who are in their mid-thirties with three young children and one on the way, tithe 10% of their income to their local Orthodox parish in California. Beyond that, they […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

What is Life Like Behind Bars?

We often forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was a prisoner, that he himself experienced the loneliness, isolation and restriction that is prison. Perhaps that is why He commanded us to visit prisoners (Matthew 25:36 – “I was in prison and you visited me.”) But what is prison like and how does a prisoner spend […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

What Role Does Demonic Spiritual Warfare Play In Our Struggles?

In this second part of a series, Fr. Stephen Powley answers some provocative questions he received by email. Question:   “In your opinion, do you think the role of evil, the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare is understated and not given fair recognition for the sins and/or crimes that are committed in today’s age? I […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Are We Forever Marked By The Worst Thing We’ve Ever Done?

In this first part of a two part series, Fr. Stephen Powley answers some provacative questions he received by email. Fr. Stephen is the priest in charge of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Pueblo, CO. Fr. Stephen began serving as a Prison Chaplain in 1985. He has ministered in every prison security […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

She Tried Prison Ministry, Then She Got Hooked

Mary-Jo Dukas is an Orthodox Christian who is serious about whether she is fulfilling the Lord’s commandments. She went through Matthew 25:35-36 like it was a checklist and saw that the one thing that was missing was that she hadn’t visited someone in prison. “I really felt called to prison ministry, but I was afraid,” confesses Dukas, […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

5 Facts About Prison and Religion That May Surprise You

For those of us living in freedom, it is all too easy to forget the more than two million men and women imprisoned in the US. Out of sight, out of mind. And yet, the United States has the highest prison population in the world. Chances are, you or someone you know has been touched […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Breaking Free From Prison

Christ is Risen!  Every Pascha, Orthodox Christians around the world venerate the Paschal icon of the Lord storming hades and breaking the chains of death. That icon provides a visual reminder of a spiritual reality – something that has happened and continues to happen for everyone who sincerely repents and cries out to Christ for […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Adjusting to Life After Prison

Greg is a former prisoner who was recently released to perform his parole in a small town in California. Like all prisoners, freedom and reintegration into society was disorienting. Nevertheless, one of the first things he did in freedom was look for an Orthodox parish.   “I was still unfamiliar with the bus routes and schedules […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Would you be ready to greet a released felon?

After serving six years in prison, Greg was a free man. But freedom did not mean that the “residue” of prison life was suddenly gone. He would need months, perhaps even years, to fully adjust to life on the outside. For one thing, he still felt deeply ashamed of the crime he had committed and […]