Francis Chan on Why the Poor and Imprisoned Are Next Christian Leaders

( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2014 05:16 PM EDT
Francis Chan, author of "Crazy Love," recently revealed why he is passionate about prison ministry and why he believes the poor and lowly will be the next great church leaders.
Francis Chan is the bestselling author of ''Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.'' (Photo: Basic.Fellowship)

Matthew 25:63 says, "And Jesus said, "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Francis Chan, pastor and author of New York Times bestseller "Crazy Love:Overwhelmed by a Relentless God," recently discussed why he loves prison ministry and how the amazing power of God can transform the hearts of even the most violent criminals.

"My interest in prison ministry started, I think, when I started to study the Word a little bit more deeply, and understood the types of people God typically chooses," says Chan, who weekly ministers to hundreds of men at Valley State Prison in California.

"They are not the people the world would typically choose to do great things," adds Chan in a video posted on the website of the Prison Fellowship.

"So I began going to the poor, began going overseas, and that's where my desire for prison ministry started," he explains, and adds, "You know, I bet you, that's where the leaders are going to come from."

Chan, who is the founder and Chancellor of Eternity Bible College, says he was greatly influenced by Chuck Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship, in 1976. He says he has spoken in conferences with Colson.

On Easter Weekend, Chan visited and spoke to men at the prison in San Francisco and was astounded by the response. "I thought what better way to spend my Easter weekend," he says, adding that these men may end up being "the future leaders of the Christian movement in America."

"These guys need just a little bit of help; just a little bit of someone coming alongside," he said, noting that Christ regularly ministered to the poor.

"I was just walking down the street one day and a guy from a halfway house ... recognized me ... We started talking, and I started understanding his life and what it's like to try to get back into the world after seven years of being gone," Chan recalls, as quoted by a Prison Ministry blogger.

Chan remembers another time two years ago, when he saw a man with his wife and three kids. They had no job, and nowhere to live. But in this same man's eyes, he also saw divine joy and peace. So Chan helped him find an apartment and get a job.

Today, this man is a pastor, running Chan's ministry in San Francisco.

"We got a whole house that is all about discipleship and getting guys that are coming out of prison and giving them just that little chance, getting a job," Chan is quoted as saying. "I really believe that if we would just give some of these guys the opportunity, they're going to be amazing pastors and leaders."

According to the Prison Fellowship's website, the ministry seeks to equip local churches and trained volunteers "to spread the Gospel and nurture disciples behind prison walls, so that men and women become new creations in Christ - not repeat offenders."

In addition, the Prison Fellowship trains "Christian inmates to become leaders of their families, communities, and churches once they are released back into the community."

To give learn more about the Prison Fellowship or give to the ministry, visit their website.