Group photo of the participants and speakers

by James TC Wong

May 28, Miri – A seminar to equip volunteers with better skills for effective in-prison ministry was organized by the Miri Chapter of the Prison Fellowship Malaysia (PFM) at Mei Ann MC.

More than 50 participants from the Northern Region Chapters of Bintulu, Miri and Limbang attended the two-day event, the first of its kind held in Miri.

It provided an opportunity for the volunteers from the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Miri Gospel, SIB and Methodist churches a platform where they could come together to be trained, to encourage and be affirmed.

The seminar also helped the volunteers to discover about their peers who shared the same goals, struggles and challenges.


Pastor Edmund Kumar (R) from PFM Sabah giving a talk assisted by a translator

In the program the topics covered included “In-Prison Ministry, the Do’s and Don’ts of Prison visitations”, “Fund raising for Prison Ministry”, “Pastoral Ministry to prisoners”, “Family Care”, “Breaking the cycle of prison”, “After Care” and the “Sycamore Tree Project”.

According to the Prison Fellowship International website, The Sycamore Tree Project® is an intensive 5-8 week in-prison program that brings groups of crime victims into prison to meet with groups of unrelated offenders. They talk about the effects of crime, the harms it causes, and how to make things right.

In many church cultures serving in prison outreach is seen as less glamorous than other ministries.

The prison ministry is often shunned because convicts are being discriminated or perceived as outcasts by the general public and sometimes even by their own family members.

For the Miri Chapter which now in its fourth year, their outreach has been encouraging.

It is commendable to note that the Miri Chapter has also the most number of members in the state; 50 dedicated volunteers are registered with the Malaysian Prisons Department .

In addition to the regular visits, the volunteers celebrate with the inmates on every Chinese New year, Gawai and Christmas.

In his welcoming speech Dennis Shaw thanked the participants for their support in attending the seminar. “Ultimately we pray the lives of the inmates will be transformed, and they can fit into the society and contribute to our nation-building too,” said the Chairman of the Sarawak Chapter.

Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Malaysia Prem Kumar was deeply encouraged by the response from the participants. “To see the family of God coming together in love and unity to serve the prisoners and their families has overwhelmed me,” he praised.

Jonathan Cortes, the Asia Envoy for Prison Fellowship International was one of the main speakers. He stressed the importance of training and education for the volunteers. “This special need for pastoral care in prison ministry is a very challenging task,” he cautioned.


Jimmy Shih presents a gift to the Asia Envoy Jonathan Cortes from PFI

In closing every participant received a certificate of attendance.

The Chairman of Miri Chapter Jimmy Shih in his speech thanked the speakers, the Organizing Committee and the participants in making the event a success. “Most of all we want to thank God for sustaining us in our ministry.”

For more information about the Prison Ministry in Miri, please email Jimmy Shih at jimmyskw@hotmail.com.

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