In the fall, Professor Sweet taught a class endearingly called Internet Content Marketing. In this course, students learned the importance of tailoring content to particular audiences in order to make a profit or showcase credibility. Towards the end of the semester, Professor Sweet asked the students to put their lessons into practice and write articles for this blog. As the editor of this site, I had the awesome opportunity to read all of these articles and choose the ones that I thought our readers would find most interesting. This particular piece is by Anna Walker, she describes her work with the prison ministry on campus. Enjoy!
You do not have to go far to hear people call Grove City College “the bubble.” More than not, the bubble is not referred to as a good thing. After being here two and a half years, I can confirm, Grove City College is in many ways a giant bubble – we leave our wallets everywhere, never lock any doors, can find people praying almost anywhere on campus and almost everyone you encounter on campus is abnormally friendly. But are not we called to be salt and light? What does that look like on a Christian college campus? I have one of many solutions to that question through getting involved with Prison Ministry.
Grove City College’s Prison Ministry all began with one student getting a group of their friends together to go to neighboring Mercer County’s Prison to lead Bible studies. Since then the ministry has continued to grow and became an official organization in 2016. I found out about the ministry at the Org Fair, which is an all campus event hosted in the early fall where students are able to learn about all the different organizations on campus. I knew I wanted to get involved with an off campus ministry, but prison ministry never crossed my mind. Like many of the students at Grove City, I grew up in a Christian family, attended a Christian school am now at a Christian college – my qualifications for working with prisoners’ backgrounds was nonexistent. Which brings me to perhaps the greatest reason why Prison Ministry is such a powerful ministry to be involved in: It does not lightly penetrate the “bubble” students live in at Grove City, it tears it to pieces.
Every week, two or three individuals from the ministry are sent into the prison. Girls go into the women’s pods and the guys go into the men’s pods. It’s typical to work through a Bible study curriculum and use whatever remaining time to get to know the prisoners and to spend time praying with them. With that being said, some weeks I have gone in and never touched the planned lesson because the girls had big questions about faith or because what they needed most was simply a loving ear to listen. I quickly learned how little we as Christians know about sharing the gospel with nonbelievers. It’s so easy at a place like Grove City to feel like the ultimate superstar Christian between being involved with hall Bible studies, attending chapel twice a week and talking about God on the daily with other Christians, but we miss the mark. We so easily overlook the major component of our faith which is to share the gospel with nonbelievers.
To listen to a girl tell you she is sentenced to 30 years behind bars, to see the tears well up in her eyes as she tells she has no family, that she has lost everything because of a meth addiction and hear her say that there is no purpose for her life, it changes you. I learned that talking about God with other Christians on the daily is not a substitute for Jesus’ command to share the gospel with nonbelievers. Being a part of Prison Ministry has been one of the most challenging, growing, joyous things I have done with my time at Grove City. The ministry works as continual reminder that we are not called to merely know about Jesus, but to be Jesus’ hands and feet to this broken world. Spending time with the prisoners forces you to trust the Lord to give you words when there are none, to give you wisdom where you lack and to fully rely on His spirit for guidance. One of the most amazing parts of going to the prison is that the individuals who come desperately want to know God. It fans into the flame the love you had for Christ when you first came to know Him and ignites a deep passion in your heart to share the life-changing news of God and what His son did on the cross.
When I come back to campus after spending time at the prison all my priorities are realigned. The trivial things of college such as the quiz I failed that morning, the research paper I have looming over my head, the stress of getting a successful job after college and selfish pursuits all fade. The Grove City bubble has been broken. I recommend this ministry to anyone who is looking to be pushed out of their comfort zone and be exceptionally challenged in their faith during these college years.