In A State Prison
Hi, my name is Matt Thomas. I am a pastor and a church planter in a specific place that most would not think about planting a church – in a state prison. Due to my behavior, a horrible drug addiction, and a series of bad choices, I found myself sentenced to three years of prison in Arizona. The only thing I knew about God was I needed Him, and my life was never going to change without Him. While I was in prison, something amazing happened. We planted a church. With no formal training, and none of us knowing what we were doing, the church grew to 70 people out of 440 inmates.
Now let’s jump forward a few years. I moved to Wichita, KS., married the woman I was engaged to before prison, and had some handsome kids. In the process, we were blessed to help start a transitional housing ministry and plant two churches simultaneously on two different prison compounds in the same facility. We also started a smaller house church that all the guys in the transitional houses go to. A year later we moved to Kansas City, and helped plant four more churches: three in the prison in Lansing, Kansas, and one on the outside in downtown Kansas City. We are re-launching the one on the outside this year, had to close one down due to a compound closing, and two are still doing amazing!
Here is the truth. This would have never happened if World Impact had not believed in the vision, helped support the vision, and trained a group of us to plant these churches. And they would not have been able to resource these churches if Stadia hadn’t resourced World Impact. These two organizations have made it possible to bring revival to some of the most dangerous areas in the United States.
The reason this is so important to me and why we need more partners is that families need to be restored, wives need their husbands, and children need their parents home, restored, and equipped for success in life. And real change only happens with the Gospel. The Gospel comes to men and women who are incarcerated from us. If we don’t have the resources to change what happens, theses men and woman will most likely come out worse than they went in due to the environment of hopelessness. There is a real opportunity for empowering, equipping, and engaging these men and woman to also plant churches, to also disciple leaders, and to also carry the light they have back to where they came from and change poverty-stricken areas from the inside out.
The sad part is there are men and woman begging for a different life and searching in the wrong ways to be successful, and the unfortunate truth is they are, for the most part, out of sight and out of mind. My dream is to plant churches in all the prisons that we can and help the seven million plus men and woman incarcerated feel the restoration that only Christ can bring. But this will only happen if we all step up to help by partnering with the work already being done by organizations like Stadia and World Impact. My life, my family’s life, and multiple incarcerated men’s lives have been forever changed because these two ministries believed in the revival that is coming!
We need you.