Helping and Enriching Lives Through Prison Ministry

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Blindness that most men in prison have…


I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support of God’s work in the prisons. This report will focus on the blindness that most men in prison have, and we can all have, regarding the harm done to others by our sins.

I teach a DOC class from time to time called Victim Impact. The course consists of looking at specific types of crime and exploring how it hurts others.  It challenges perpetrators to be more aware of their victims and the extent to which they have harmed them and others.  The class attempts to help these men see that their crimes have hurt people in a broader way than they ever imagined, and to try to get the students to identify with the victims of their crimes.

We talk about primary or direct victims – those who directly experience the crime. Those victims are usually obvious.  A man steals tools from his boss, so his boss is the direct victim.  However, we also explore things like secondary victims – those who have a close relationship with the direct victim.  In our example, the boss’ wife and children.  The boss can’t pay his mortgage this month because the loss of the tools directly and the lost income they generated.  Finally, we explore the ripple effect of that crime – how it affects those in the community like the other employees of the company.  They may work less hours because the tools that were stolen were needed on the job they were doing.

Once the scope of who is victimized is explored, we then discuss the areas of impact – physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and future decision making. It is easy to miss the hurt done in many of these areas and the long-term effects of the crime.  For instance, victims of crime often struggle in their faith as a result of being harmed.  Most inmates have never considered that their crime could lead others to doubting God.  We will often ask questions in the class like, “What if that had happened to your mother or sister?” with the idea of bringing what they have done to a place that truly affects them emotionally, or “How would you get to work if your car was stolen?” trying to get them to think through the ramifications of their crimes.  Some men for the first time see how much they have really hurt others.  Other men still don’t get it.  On more than one occasion, while talking about domestic violence, I have had men say they believed women liked to be hit or why would they have stayed in the relationship.  Yeah, I know, it shocked me too.  So many men in prison still see themselves as the victims.

We have a man in our program that recently got a life lesson in this area. Keith was only out a few weeks when we ran a credit report for him and found out that he had three accounts that were past due.  The interesting thing is that they were all taken out while he was in prison.  He had been a victim of fraud.  Something he had at times in his life inflicted on others.  Keith was very upset.  Was it a stranger, or maybe someone who knew him, or maybe even a family member?  Keith learned over the next several months what a headache it is to try and straighten things like this out.  However, it wasn’t until he filed his taxes in February that he realized the fraud had extended to the IRS.  Tax returns had been filed under his Social Security Number while he was in prison.  He was expecting a nice refund to pay off his probation, but as of July he still has not received any money.  He is scheduled to go to meet with an IRS representative later this month to try and get it resolved.  He now has a new sense of sorrow for what he has put others through with his crimes.

Being a Christian is really about acknowledgement of sin and how much I have hurt God and others by my sin. We could easily substitute the word sin for crime.  Do that and read the first part of this report again.  Does it make you consider things differently?  Do I always realize the impact of my sins?  Who is the primary victim of our sins?  Isn’t it God and His son? These verses help us to see this…

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Romans 5:8–11 (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 

When Paul said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”, I believe he was saying that the emphasis should be on our primary victim. Jesus is the victim not us.

Often in the life of David, the suffering that was inflicted on the secondary victims by his sins were obvious – his child from Bathsheba. Aren’t the ripple effects of those sins also clear – wars and the kingdom in chaos.  Do we clearly see the secondary victims of our own sins and the ripple effects they cause?

It is so hard for men in prison (and us) to clearly see our victims. That is what we strive to teach every time we are in the prisons – We are not the victims.  Those whom we have hurt are, and ultimately Jesus is.  That fundamental understanding can change the life of each of us.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this message with those behind the fence.

Daryl Townsend