Elizabeth River District Men's Ministry
Friday, November 24, 2017
Ministering To Men Along The Elizabeth River

Disciple Bible Outreach Ministry

There is much talk these days about the five fruitful practices, but they are nothing new really.  Matthew 25:34-40 spells it out to us.  So many times folks relate to part of the that Scripture that refers to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, and inviting the stranger in.  The part left out so often is “When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  Further, we are told to go and make disciples of the entire world.  Our brothers and sisters in prison are often the least and the lost.  I hope you will search your heart and see if God is calling you to be a part of this ministry.  I can assure you, you will be blessed and you will be a blessing.
 
Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries is expanding into Virginia and it will be a unified endeavor between the Virginia Conference and the Holston Conference so that we can cover all the prisons in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Here’s the big issue – we need volunteers – lots of them.  When I say lots, I mean somewhere in the neighborhood 250 to 300.  If you want to know more, please contact me.
 
This is a project of the United Methodist Men, but we invite all genders to be a part of this endeavor.  Although we are primarily Methodist, we need all people of faith.  I hope that you will feel the way Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:8 when he said: “Here I am, send me.”
 
Right now the major goal is to offer DISCIPLE Bible study in every prison and juvenile detention center in Virginia including the federal prison at Petersburg.  If my count is correct, that totals 33 prisons.  Some of the prisons like Greensville house three prisons under one administration.  Disciple Outreach Ministries of Virginia (DBOM) has coordinated with the Department of Corrections in getting materials approved etc as well as a plan to try to have the study in at least five units each year.  Originally our hope was for more, but perhaps our goal was a bit lofty.  Right now we do have the study or are going to begin the study in the three prisons at Greensville, the Women’s prison in Goochland, Sussex II State prison, and the Juvenile detention center in Beaumont.  I should mention that the study in the juvenile centers is called “Rings of Fellowship” which is a Disciple program rewritten for youths. 
 
There is an ongoing need for the study materials and my calculation is that it comes out to about $40.00 per participant which was the reason I suggested that if anyone wanted to “sponsor an inmate”, they could do it for that amount.  One of the plans is to provide each unit with materials for 25 inmates, so if you do the math, it comes out to $1000.00 per prison or unit.  I have further hopes that some of the churches will “adopt” a unit and support them by providing materials and volunteers.
 
One of the drawbacks we have encountered is having volunteers willing to go into the prisons and centers in a particular area.  Anyone who has either taken or has led a DISCIPLE Bible study is considered trained.  There is one other area that volunteers have to have training in and that is conducted by DBOM National.  The first volunteers attended sessions in Richmond and Norfolk.  That training is to be certified to go into a prison environment.  Currently, that training can be done via either a webinar or using a DVD.
 
The DBOM commitment for volunteers would be for the volunteers to go into the prison weekly.  As you said in your email, that is quite a commitment.  Typically a 34 week study in prison will go longer due to holidays, lockdowns, etc., so it probably would run about 40 weeks (a Biblical number).  Some of the areas we are lacking in for volunteers are Southside Virginia and the Tidewater area.  I believe there are brothers and sisters in Northern Virginia that are willing, but there really aren’t any DOC prisons nearby.  Even though they aren’t close by,  I know that will support the mission of taking the Word into the lease and the lost.  Eventually I would like to see DBOM offered in jails as well, but one thing at a time.
           -   Gene Mims