Occasionally, as we process inmate requests or writings, we research the situation of an inmate. Many of them have been featured in news stories and information about their crimes is public.
Putting the pieces together, we find lives that are steeped in tragedy, often from childhood. Bad decisions compounded with bad circumstances create situations so complex and sad that a good resolution seems impossible for both the criminal and victim.
Our goal is to bring the love and power of Jesus to these situations. It is an overwhelming task, but tools such as the Loaves & Fishes magazine make the task more doable.
What are some of the tools that Loaves & Fishes provides for men and women who want spiritual recovery and growth, and those who want to help them in this pursuit?
- A focus on Christian discipleship. Our audience is inmates who have committed to following Jesus and want to grow in biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity, so most of our content is practical teaching on following Jesus in real life.
- An editorial from the heart. Lavern introduces each issue, highlighting a particular spiritual theme. We are working through the fruits of the spirit.
- Articles on life issues written specifically for prison inmates. Practical topics, such as forgiveness, using time wisely, and others are addressed.
- Reprinted material. We select short stories, articles, quotes, and other material that we feel is inspiring and challenging for prisoners desiring to grow in Christ.
- Bible study guides. In each issue, we provide a short study guide for a particular book of the Bible. Background information for the book helps the reader understand the context. A description of the book’s major themes and a short outline are included. The study guide concludes with a few challenging questions or exercises to direct the reader’s thinking.
- Puzzles. Delightful brain-teasing exercises based on Bible verses or topics are a great way to occupy the reader’s time while highlighting a spiritual truth.
- Lamp & Light Bible Study Courses. For several years we have partnered with Lamp & Light Publishers in offering our readers free Bible study courses. We simply post an ad containing a small catalog of available courses. Inmates may enroll in these courses and return their final tests for grading and a certificate of completion. Thousands of inmates have been able to enroll in these courses because of Lamp & Light generously allowing us to feature this ad in Loaves & Fishes.
- Free on the Inside. A large portion of Loaves & Fishes is made up of inmate-submitted poetry and testimonies. It is one of the sections most appreciated and commented on by our readers. These words come from deep in the hearts of prison inmates, and they minister to other inmates in a unique way.
- Science in Creation. For many years, Andrew Zimmerman has graciously given his time to write an article for each issue, using scientific topics to inspire worship and educate the reader about the wonders of God’s world. It takes inmates beyond the concrete and steel of their immediate surroundings to the mountains and rivers of the earth, distant stars and galaxies of space, and into the intricacies of microscopic mysteries.
- Christian family life. Each issue of our magazine features biblical teaching on marriage, child training, or other topics related to family life. We believe breakdown in families is a crucial failure that causes many of our society’s problems, and that rebuilding families according to the biblical model is a key in recovery. We want our readers to capture a vision of the beauty of a Christ-centered home.
With these tools, we hope to make the task of rebuilding broken lives easier. Loaves & Fishes may only be a small implement in the Lord’s tool box, but if our work is instrumental in building the kingdom of God in the prisons of this country, our mission will have been accomplished. May God bless you for your interest in this work.
—Mike Fisher, board member