Every once in a while we use this blog to do a “shout out.” Today, I’d like to do that for a group I was privileged to address last Friday in Wauwatosa.
Prison Aftercare Network of Wisconsin (PAN) is well deserving of a “shout out.” This coalition of individuals and organizations that deal with Wisconsin’s prison population is impressive, to say the least. While the focus of PAN itself is primarily on those prisoners who are about to be released, are just released, or have been released some time, their meetings include those who minister to inmates in both jails and prisons and those who work with “at risk” populations.
It was apparent Friday that this is a group of people who genuinely care about those who have, for whatever reason, found themselves doing time. They recognize the inherent God-given value of each person who is incarcerated and devote themselves to giving a message of hope, beginning with presenting the Gospel and the true freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.
But their work isn’t only in word–or even The Word; it’s also meeting tangible needs–such as helping prisoners develop a pre-release plan, connecting them after release to churches and ministries that can give spiritual support as well as provide housing and clothing, and assisting them in acquiring job-related skills and in finding a job.
PAN is led by Nancy DeSandre who works with BASICS of Milwaukee, one of our favorite organizations, largely because we always find them right in the middle of things–just as they are with PAN.
In short, PAN personnel invest deeply in the lives of “the least, the last, and the lost,” those who are trying to re-enter families, communities, churches where reconnecting is tremendously difficult, in many, if not most, instances. Certainly it is right that Christians be there to assist in every way possible–and PAN is doing a tremendous job of doing just that by meeting needs and coordinating efforts. I’m blessed our paths have crossed.