Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
In Matthew 25:35-37, we read:
… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
Christ calls everyone to minister to those hungry, thirsty, as strangers, naked and in prison.
But, did you know that an atheist group has spent the last nine years suing the state of Florida, Prisoners of Christ, and Lamb of God, to try and shut down a prison ministry program? According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the atheists claim that state funds should never go to “pervasively sectarian” groups—even when those groups provide valuable services like room, board, and job training assistance. “Even though the services are provided at a bargain price. Even though no state money goes to religious activities. Even though the program works.”
In a recent press release, “Florida can continue to partner with faith-based groups to serve recently released prisoners, thanks to two prisoner ministries who stood up against an atheist activist group. The ministries, both represented by the Becket Fund, argued in court that the law allows religious groups to partner with the state to feed, house, and help former prisoners find jobs. They also argued that the law did not allow the atheist group—which had never seen the program in action, witnessed its life-changing success, nor had any interest in offering assistance to recently released prisoners—to discriminate against private groups just because of their faith.”
The press release continued, “For most newly released offenders, the prison gate is a revolving door. Without help from groups like Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of Gob Ministries, many of these men would be back in prison in a matter of months, and most of them will be in handcuffs again in just two years,” said Lori Windham, Senior Legal Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represents Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of God Ministries. “These men are dumped at the bus station with a few dollars and even less hope. They need help, and these private groups are there for them. They pick up these former prisoners, give them a safe place to stay, provide community and accountability, and help them find jobs.”
Did you also know there is an Orthodox Prison Ministry in America? Under the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of America, the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry serves to train volunteers to minister to those incarcerated and to serve those in prisons.
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN PRISON MINISTRY is the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Its mission is to bring the love of Christ to those who are in prison by providing encouragement, material support, transition and reintegration services, Christian education, spiritual guidance and the sacramental life of the Church.
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