How It Started

After church one day, Janet Young noticed a couple seated near the back, who looked extraordinarily sad. Sensing a nudge from God, she asked them how she might help. Their response would change her life.

"They shared that their son had just been convicted of murder," she recalls, "and had been transferred into the state prison system."

Janet Young

A door had been opened, and Janet walked through. "After praying for them I asked for the address of their son," she says. " Eventually I sent him a card of encouragement along with a book. The prisoner wrote back and shared that he had accepted Jesus and wanted me to help him grow with his new life." Similar requests soon followed from 18 of his fellow prisoners. The facility where they were incarcerated was new, and without a chaplain. The men wrote to Janet of their desire for a pastoral relationship.

"The letters were deeply stirring," she recalls. "Some were humorous, others contained handcrafted cards with great artwork. These letters are still on file. " Janet didn't know it, but a ministry was being born. Along with her own pastor, Bob Bradley, she agreed to provide the pastoral care the men needed. That was 1994.

There was little in Janet's prior experience to prepare her for such an endeavor, but as she says, "God does not call the equipped; He equips the called." Like countless godly men and women before her, this genteel woman was hearing God's call to step out into the unknown. She followed it, and has found His provision at every step. "The greatest equipping," she notes, "was the passion He placed in our hearts for those the world calls convicts — the lowest of the rejects in our society. God loves them with a passion, and instilled that unconditional love within our hearts."

As a result, men forgotten by the world receive personal visits and Christian literature. Over the years, hundreds of Bibles and other resources have been placed in the hands of grateful inmates."The state system allows us the luxury of time," Janet notes ruefully. "Most of these men are serving long sentences.  Many will never see the streets again." Is it worth it? According to Janet, "The hundreds upon hundreds of letters we have on file bear testimony to their grateful hearts and upward walks."

And God's mercies are new every morning. "He has shown Himself to be a beautiful fragrance on that dry desert floor," says Janet Young, "by pouring His rivers of living waters upon the thirsty and seeking souls within the walls of those prison fortresses. "

In 2016, after serving believers in prison for 22 years, Janet Young announced her retirement. The Faith Community Prison Ministry is now continuing under the able leadership of Mark Campbell with his wife Diane.

 
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