Some church ministries are difficult to quantify for their influence and results. Ministering to prisoners is one such Christian service whose quiet influence changes the lives of even the hardest of people to reach.

Colorado Territorial Prison opened in June 1871 in Canon City, five years before Colorado became the United State’s 38th state. In 1876, the facility was designated as the state penitentiary.

Since then, additional prisons have been built in the area. Currently, there are seven state prisons and four federal prisons within Fremont County. The total prison population is more than 7,500.

In recent years, several Canon City Church members have made a focused personal effort to reach prisoners with Jesus. Beverly, Debbie, DiAne, Fred, Henry, Jerry, Mike, Ned and Thelma (last names withheld) have partnered with locally-based Prayer for Prisoners International, an organization with international influence.

The list of approaches they use is quite inspiring. These nine Canon City members have prayed for written requests from the incarcerated, written personal letters, sent hundreds of Christmas cards, talked with and prayed for inmates, conducted Bible studies, preached sermons, and provided ministry administrative support.

They have personally been in Arrowhead and Colorado Territorial Correctional facilities; two state prisons in Fremont County; two federal prisons in Fremont County (both maximum and minimum), as well as in six other state prisons: Bent County, Fort Lyon, Limon maximum, Pueblo maximum, Pueblo women’s, and Rifle.

They have also traveled to and ministered in 14 Florida prisons, as well as several in Missouri. Ned expresses that every prisoner he has been with has shown sincere spiritual interest. “Praying with the prisoners has helped me grow spiritually,” says Beverly.

Story and photos by Steve Schwarz