In 2009, Christ the King Parish, through Deacons Mikhail Alnajjar and Al Rizzo, instituted a much-needed outreach ministry program to visit inmates at the Benton County Jail. Some inmates who attend the group discussions are Catholics; all are interested in learning about the Catholic faith and Christianity in general. They are wounded, hurting, and in need of spiritual healing. Having been ostracized and cast away from ordinary life, the inmates come seeking the Lord Jesus who alone can reconcile and make new. At present, the team visits male inmates, with hopes that in the future the team can expand the outreach to adult females and juvenile inmates.
Let us not forget that Jesus himself was incarcerated during His life on earth, and, if we look hard enough, He can still be found in the jail.
Most inmates come from broken or non-existent homes, and from their early years live a pain-filled existence. As they move into their adult lives, they look for ways to escape the emotional and psychological pain inflicted upon them. Drinking and drugs are a very common escape mechanism, and eventually they start stealing to “feed” their habit. It is the stealing and other illegal activities that usually land them in jail. Another cause of their incarceration is violence. Their pain-filled lives, coupled with drugs, make them easy prey to violence. It is their pain and spiritual emptiness that draws them to search for God.
This ministry’s message of faith, hope, love, healing, forgiveness, and redemption in this life resonates with a very deep need in their spirits. Those who attend the group sessions commonly reach out to experience God, and it deepens the team’s faith experience to see God responding to their spiritual needs. Psalm 34 reminds us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and as members of the jail ministry team, it is indeed a privilege to see the Lord visibly fulfilling His Word. As the psalmist says, God will not spurn the contrite and humbled.
Anyone interested in joining the team and would like more information about this life-giving ministry, please contact Deacon Mikhail Alnajjar at the parish office (946-1675).