They are inmates.
They made some very poor choices that affected the lives of others. And those choices put them in a place that nobody wants to be. They are in prison. They would give anything to walk out of that place. But they can't.
But the crazy thing is there are some of us who choose to walk into that place on our own free will. Nobody makes us. Nobody tells us we have to do it. We haven't been found guilty of any crime that would merit us having to be a resident in such a horrible place.
We are preachers, insurance agents, construction workers, school teachers, retired persons and electricians. Why would we go into such a place?
The main reason is because we believe the most important thing we can do in our lives is to follow our Saviour. The one who told us in Matthew 25 to visit the prisoner. The one who said in Isaiah 58 that this type of action was true worship.
We are not super Christians. We have our issues. We have our shortcomings. And we all want to be better persons.
But more importantly, we want to be obedient. We go in wanting to see Jesus change lives.
And sometimes, we find that it's our life that does the changing.
That's what prison ministry is all about.