The River Church, with campuses in southeastern Michigan, wrapped up its prison ministry for the season in late September. With more than 200 volunteers, the prison ministry team visited 21 prisons throughout Ohio and Michigan, reaching more than 40,000 inmates.

On each visit, the team typically arrives with motorcycles, bands, and comedy acts and transforms the prison yard into a dynamic environment to present the gospel. Using illustrations and relatable stories, Jim Combs, pastor of The River Church and a Regular Baptist chaplain, brings God’s Word to the inmates. Afterward, team members meet with inmates to answer questions and pray with them. The team also sets up softball and basketball games as a venue to reach prisoners.

New opportunities continue to open up as other states have invited the prison team to minister. “I am amazed at the doors being opened up to us,” Combs says. “It’s about meeting [prisoners] where they are, building bridges, and sharing the gospel. We’re there to encourage and to pray with them. It is an awesome opportunity to share Jesus.”

The team is already planning next summer’s schedule and anticipates having access to more prisons and to thousands more inmates.