Blessings Beyond Bars

Blessings Beyond Bars


The Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) has recently launched its first Lenten Youth Project, Blessings Beyond Bars, which engages children and young adults to learn about prison ministry. OCPM provides an interactive lesson plan, hands-on craft activity and fundraising ideas for youth.

The lesson plan can be done with youth groups, Sunday School classes and families. The lesson allows children to explore Matthew 25:36, “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? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

pic 1 websizeFor the craft activity, children are guided to convert shoe boxes into mock prison cells using paint, straws, popsicle sticks, cut-outs of icons that OCPM distributes to people in prison and other supplies. OCPM encourages instructors to continue the conversation about prison ministry while making the craft. Once the craft activity is complete, children are encouraged to use the box to collect donations that will help OCPM fill prisons with Orthodox Bibles, prayer books, icons and Orthodox books. OCPM thanks Sylvia Leontaritis with the Adventures of an Orthodox Mom blog and her children who helped design this lesson plan and craft activity in collaboration with OCPM.

Box with diagram of a cell pasted inside, bars across the front, and Lego people as the prisoner and guard

Lego people outside the bars offering icons to the Lego person inside the box cell

OCPM is the official prison ministry of the Orthodox Church, under the Assembly of Canonical Bishops. The mission of the organization 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. Each year, OCPM trains priests and parishes on how to minister to those in prison and distributes books, prayer cards, icons and Orthodox Bibles to those in prison.

Box cell filled with money raised to help OCPM

Please visit OCPM’s website to get involved with this Lenten youth project!

For more information, please contact Christiana Roulakis: You can also read the OCPM Impact Report here.

About author

Christiana Roulakis

Christiana Roulakis directed and produced a short film called Lucky Girls ( about the Theotokos Girls’ Orphanage in India. She has a personal blog called “DIY Philanthropy” (, where she writes about her experiences with do-it-yourself projects and giving back. Christiana is recently married and lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Stefanos. She is the Director of Development for the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), the official prison ministry of the Orthodox Church under the Assembly of Canonical Bishops.