Prison ministry continues to grow
Visitors sought as inmates seek mentoring
A MINISTRY IN British Columbia wants to prepare a thousand Canadians
to work with some of Canada’s most unreached people – prisoners.
M2/W2 Association – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2)
– has mentored inmates in federal and provincial prisons in British
Columbia for 50 years. Volunteers meet individually with prisoners and
help them with skills such as writing resumes or preparing for family
life. Parole officers recommend the program to prisoners, and inmates
apply, describing what they want to learn.
Prisoners clamour for mentorships, says executive director Raymond
Robyn. More than 250 have mentors – and approximately 300 are
waiting, he says.
The organization aims to have a thousand volunteers in prisons in the
next three years. M2/W2 ( www.M2W2.com) recruits volunteers
through a program called The Visit. Launched in April the program
takes church members joined by M2/W2 volunteers to visit a prison
once. It helps potential volunteers understand prison life more before
they commit to M2/W2, says Robyn.
Volunteer opportunities also exist outside the prisons. M2/W2’s No
One Leaves Alone program provides mentors for prisoners once they’re
released. Part of this program is The Chapter, an initiative where
volunteers work with people living in halfway houses.
M2/W2 also runs two Hidden Treasures thrift stores, one in Abbotsford and another in Chilliwack. Prisoners from minimum security
facilities work or serve at the stores on work or volunteer passes.
“It’s a human right to hear the gospel at least once,” says Robyn. But
he knows prison ministry can be intimidating. Robyn spent decades
overseas as a missionary to Muslims before joining M2/W2 three years
ago. He was more comfortable planting churches than talking to
inmates, he says.
Robyn has mentored people who have been convicted of serious
crimes. “It shocks you out of your boots to think how somebody could
stoop down so low to harm somebody,” says Robyn. “Then you realize
that’s why Christ died.” He’s seen former prisoners baptized into local
churches. Some go on to volunteer with M2/W2. –MEAGAN GILLMORE
community to learn
WHEN PAREN TS GET better, the whole
family gets better. That is one of
the taglines of The Parent Café, an
outreach of New Song Anglican Church
in Port Perry, Ont. The evenings, held
every few months, are an opportunity
for parents to learn from an expert
guest and each other.
The events are free, and the church
offers complimentary babysitting to
make it as easy as possible for parents
“It’s an outreach mission for
the community of Port Perry and
surrounding areas to love, support and
encourage those in their parenting
journey,” explains organizer and church
member Melanie Hewitt. “It’s open
to anyone interested in the topic
being presented or who simply wants
support from a community of parents.”
“As a parent, I know how lonely
it can be when dealing with various
childhood and teen matters,” says
Hewitt. “At times, I wanted a ‘parent
help-line’ just to vent to, or to seek
advice on a particular issue I was
Occasionally the topic is of more
interest to Christian parents, like a
session on building faith at home, but
generally the church, a member of the
Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC),
intentionally offers topics of concern to
the broader community.
“As we look to future Parent Cafés,
we will be surveying the community to
better understand the parenting issues
they face in order to expand on the
topics covered thus far,” says Hewitt.
–F T STAFF
NUMBER OF B.C.
PRISONERS WAI TING
FOR MEN TORS
NUMBER OF YEARS
M2/W2 HAS WORKED
IN B.C.’S FEDERAL AND