Church Behind Bars Pilot results

Church Behind Bars Pilot Results

Along with punishment for crimes committed, prison is about behavior modification. The goal of the Department of Corrections is to see prisoners change enough through incarceration that they never commit another crime. Correctional Facilities all across the United States are filled with programs to facilitate this change, but it is evident that America's prisons are failing.

The philosophy of creating lasting change in prisoners is shifting to secular methods. In the state of Florida this means that faithful Christian ministries are being canceled. Church Behind Bars didn't even make their vetting system, however, we were allowed to do this year long initiative because of our commitment to measure its results. Our goal was not to offer another "program," but to facilitate a life change, because the heart has been changed. It can't be about redirecting anger, or "managing" a broken past any longer. It's about stepping into the new nature that's given at rebirth, and partnering with Christ in complete healing and transformation of the heart, and then establishing His righteousness!

True Transformation Happens From the Inside Out

This is truly happening in the CBB movement. Maybe for the first time, these interns are being transformed into who they've been created to be. Not for the sake of "gain time," or to make it look good to the parole board, but because they have come out from underneath the rubble of their past and the wreckage of their choices. They are emerging from the shadows and stepping into their God-given assignments
A former volunteer chaplain said, "Debbie, I worked with these inmates for several years and have not seen the heart change until CBB... Their attitudes and countenance have changed. They have learned the meaning of forgiveness, mercy and compassion from the Lord and for one another. They are learning to put others first and live unto the Lord. They have truly gone through a transformation."

Our CBB Pilot location choice ~ FLORIDA

Why did we choose Florida? 
Florida has some of the harshest punishments in the nation, particularly for drug-related offenses. For example, Florida law defines drug “trafficking” as possession of a given weight of illegal drugs, so illegal possession of 28 grams of a painkiller like hydrocodone — about 44 pills — triggers a mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentence. The recidivism rate is about 33% in Florida, which means that one out of every three inmates released from prison will return to prison within three years.

Lowell Correctional Institution is home of Florida’s death row.
  • Lowell CI is Florida’s oldest women’s facility, as well as the largest women’s prison in the U.S with nearly 3000 incarcerated women.
  • Lowell Annex is the depository for all pregnant female prisoners in the State of Florida Correctional system.
  • About 65 percent of female inmates are mothers
  • Lowell houses youth offenders from age 14 to 18
  • Security Level 7: including close management and death row

Marion Correctional Institution is a level 4 state prison for men.
  • This facility houses a maximum of 1324 inmates at a mix of security levels.

Church Behind Bars 2017 Statistics
  • 83 1st time salvations
  • 323 Rededications
  • 383 asked for further contact


12 months produced a combined total of 75 graduates who became thoroughly trained as leaders and mentors.
  • Out of 100 women enrolled, 60 graduated and 9 others received certificates of participation.
  • Out of 30 men enrolled, 15 graduated and 9 others received certificates of participation.

One of our graduates wrote a drama about the valley of dry bones found in Ezekiel 37 to illustrate the significance of Church Behind Bars.

One of our graduates wrote a drama about the valley of dry bones found in Ezekiel 37 to illustrate the significance of Church Behind Bars. There were nine bone piles, each representing the nine areas of service operating within CBB: PREACHERS, TEACHERS, WORSHIPERS, MUSICIANS, EVANGELISTS, INTERCESSORS, TESTIMONIES, HOSPITALITY and ADMINISTRATORS.

At the end of the drama, each person who had been covered in bones stood up with a banner across their chest representing one of the areas of service and saluted. They then shouted,   "WE ARE THE CHURCH BEHIND BARS!"

The narrator told all the Department of Corrections represented at their graduation:
"In the beginning none of us knew what we were signing up for or what to expect. At first, we thought Revs. Tony, Debbie and Robin and all the volunteers were like all the other ministries that come to teach us. CBB did teach us a lot, but they also uncovered us. Like the bones in Ezekiel 37, God knew what they were and what their potential was. God saw us, what we were and what our potential was too. When these beautiful people pack up and return home, the Church Behind Bars will still be here. Let us not forget as we enter a new year, WE are the Church Behind Bars."

CBB success confirmed through inmate comments

These are just some testimonies of what transpired over the past twelve months through the Church Behind Bars Movement. Our office files are filled with amazing things that have taken place...

Their identity was unveiled!

“I’m being transformed in front of my own eyes more and more. It’s amazing how I could ever be who I am becoming.” F. D.
"It's mind blowing how God is breaking though each and every one of us...He is tapping into every bit of talent and gifts that He has given us.
CBB has shown me that you can be free even behind the gates of barbed wire. Prison, my past and my charges do not make me who I am. God made me; I'm a child of Christ and finally free to hit the ground running as a conqueror in Jesus Christ's army." 
"CBB has trained us up to be warriors in the Kingdom and be true servants of God to continue in this prison." P.F.
"I’VE NEVER LOVED MYSELF, MUCH LESS EVER LIKED MYSELF. Now because I know Jesus is in me, and how He sees me, I feel love for me for the first time—EVER!" A.G.
“No person has ever known the depth of self-loathing and shame that I have walked in… But guess what? It’s gone!”
“I’ve learned how to have my own experience (daily) with Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve learned how to listen for His voice.”
“I’ve learned how Christ sees me spiritually, and BOY! Am I beautiful!”
“I’ve learned that He gave me gifts to use to help others see Him.”
“I’ve learned how to operate as part of a body, rather than flopping around on my own.”
“I’ve learned how much difference it makes when I encourage someone, compliment them or thank them.”
“I’ve learned to more I speak positive to people, the more people want to listen.”
“I’ve learned that people often just want someone to listen to them.”
“I’ve learned that conflicts are fewer and further between when there’s love instead of offense.”
“I’ve learned that I am a bride of Jesus Christ and words fail to describe the difference in me because of it!”

“For uncovering me, dusting off all the debris life has piled on me over the years…for having hearts for Jesus and coming here this past year jut for us, THANK YOU!” D.D.
“I never realized how broken I was until this training. I got to deal with my own brokenness and could see how it will help me with helping others.” C. B.
“This program has really helped me to become a better person and to grow closer to Christ.” P. F.
“I just want to thank you for offering this program to me. I struggled from one abusive relationship to another for 30 years but I was also searching for something to fill this void in me and went from church to church. I eventually found God and was saved, but knew those 30 years left me damaged. I have been trying to heal with God’s help, but had no direction. This teaching finally gave me that direction.”  S.G.
“Church Behind Bars is a life changing ministry that builds the character of individuals. I’m grateful for this ministry!” R. J.
“I’ve been a Christian for 6 years, but until all of you came I was not empowered or equipped and now I’m really getting this. Also, it helped me to get rid of something I hung on to since I was 7. It was keeping me from having a close relationship with God.” T. W.

In an environment that fosters isolation, withdrawal and looking out for oneself, we commissioned mission field workers!

“I’ve been praying that something would come and bring change here at Lowell to impact the inmates here. I’ve been here since 2009 and it’s getting worse each year. I’ve got time to go and I think this program is equipping those of us who want to bring change and it places us in a position to be better equipped to become those positive leaders that this compound needs to set change into action.” G. S.
“We now understand the importance of going out to minister to the lost, the hurting, abandoned, lonely, oppressed, depressed, the widows, diseased, homeless, abused and the broken hearted- all in LOVE” S.S.
“We know others in this prison are depending on us! They are broken, hungry people and it's up to us to give them what we have received.” T.W.
“This is the first time we are seeing ministry happening outside of the Chapel. We realize that we have been equipped to BE the Church.” G.S.
“I invite the men in my dorm to come see that the CBB is not a group of volunteers, but a living body of believers here inside the fences.” J. C.
“I’m looking forward to 2018 and both putting into practice what I’ve learned this year and raising the bar as the interns carry out the mission and objectives of CBB at Marion CI which we have been commissioned with.” A. P.

What separates CBB Movement from the Prison Ministry Model of the past?

“Other prison ministries came to feed us fish, but CBB has taught us to fish!” D.D.
“Prison ministries in the past came to "save" people, which is cool, but what do you do after that? CBB has equipped us for service!” T.W.
“I have been in prison for 35 years- I have a life sentence but am eligible for parole. During my time in prison, I have taken many programs that taught about God’s Word and His will for the lives of his children. I have spent 1 & 1/2 years in the “Horizon Faith Based Program”. Five years I’ve been involved in “Bridges of America” and many more study groups. But, I have not seen or participated in a program that focused so intently on leadership training, pastoral training, evangelistic training, prayer, praise and worship, and much more as the “Church Behind Bars” does. I am extremely excited to be a part of this program. Its inception here at Marion C.I. is nothing but God at work! Can I get an AMEN!? The staff members, musicians, singers, teachers, and prayer warriors are truly awesome and love God… I can’t wait for the next session.” J. T.
“In the beginning nobody knew what to expect from CBB, or they didn't want to get comfortable and then be let down. As time went by however, a foundation was built and everyone welcomed change. I've never been able to get up in front of others and talk. So now to be able to publicly read the Word and not care what others think is amazing.” M.J.
“In the 8 years I have been incarcerated The Church Behind Bars has made the most impact on my life than any other program I have attended. Thank you.” C. C.
“I am to totally enthralled with the teachings of this leadership study. It is one of the most enlightening studies I have ever participated in, and I’ve taken many.” J. T.