Learn About the Needs and the Hunger for Literature in Prison and How Loaves & Fishes Magazine Is Changing Lives
Our goal is to exalt Jesus Christ and provide free Christian discipleship tools for those in prison. We publish the Loaves & Fishes magazine with the help of many partners who pray with us, share their finances, and give of their time to make it happen.
While these efforts have made an impact and helped to change lives in many prisons across our nation, we see a great opportunity to do more. This presentation will show you the open door of reaching prisoners through literature, the difference Loaves & Fishes is making, and how you can help.
My hope is that you will be inspired to be an active worker in God’s Kingdom wherever you are. You were made to make a difference.
For the Kingdom,
The Needs and Open Door
As you can see in the chart below, the prison population in the United States of America has soared in the past 30 years. There are approximately 2.3 million men and women behind bars—more than 1 in every 100 adults. Roughly 1 in 32 Americans are either behind bars, on probation, or on parole.
Americans Behind Bars in the Last 100 Years
1910 – 2010
The average cost to house one prisoner for a year is $30,000, for a total cost of 68 billion dollars per year, well over $200 per capita. But numbers don’t reveal the greatest cost of all—the countless shattered homes and hurting hearts of real people.
There is only one cure for the rampant lawlessness and crime in our country—salvation in Jesus Christ! These men and women behind bars need a relationship with Jesus, a fear of God, and His power to conquer sin. They need someone to disciple them, to help them learn how to consistently follow Christ.
Have you ever shared Christ with someone only to see them walk off and literally (or figuratively) throw your message into a trash bin? In the free world, where quality Christian literature is abundant, many people are too busy or complacent to pay attention. In contrast, while many in prison also close their hearts, the demand for truth far exceeds the supply.
Tens of thousands of hungry people have asked us to speak into their lives with requests such as these:
- “I read a copy of your Loaves & Fishes magazine. May I please get my own subscription?”
- “With your help I found Jesus, and I want to learn more about Him.”
- “Send me any books and literature that you have available to help me in my walk with the Lord.”
- “Can you send me a Bible study course?”
- “I’d like to have a friend to write to.”
- “Please send me a Bible.”
Basically, they are saying, “Please speak into my life! Tell me something that can help me in my walk with God.”
Imagine the opportunities! Here is access to thousands of isolated people who will receive and appreciate what we teach them and share it with their friends! Some of these already profess to know God and seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ; others are still in darkness, searching for meaning in life. Behind many of these requests is a person who desires to get their life on the right track and become the person, leader, parent, or spouse that God wants them to be.
Printed literature is powerful. Many organizations and religions, such as the Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons, realize its potential and invest as much as millions of dollars per year in publishing their message.
Will we wake up to the opportunities of mass printing before the night comes when no one can work? Or will we allow Satan’s servants to saturate the prisons with his message while we lag behind, hoping someone else will finish this task?
The Model Missionary
There was never a missionary more effective than Jesus Christ. He was a model example of one who lived for the cause of the Kingdom of God.
In John chapter 4 Jesus is about His Father’s business. He met a woman by a well outside the city of Samaria and began to share the good news with her. Soon she left her water pot to go into the city and invite her people to come meet Jesus.
31His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
This is the missionary pattern Jesus left for us:
- Jesus lived every day with purpose and clear direction.
- Jesus was diligently committed to completing the job on time.
- Jesus was nourished with the fulfillment of doing His Father’s will.
To be effective for God, we must follow the example of Jesus in these three things: purpose, urgency, and fulfillment.
A Life of Purpose
Jesus understood clearly the Father’s will and purpose for His life. This purpose affected His rest, privacy, travel, relationships with His friends, meals, and entire lifestyle.
Jesus confessed that He could do nothing of Himself, but only what the Father helped Him do. Because of their intimate relationship with each other, the Father could lead Him and reveal His will. Jesus never stepped outside of His Father’s will, but was always sensitive to the Father’s leading, even to the point of rejection, suffering, and death.
Are you confused about God’s purpose for your life? Follow the example of Jesus, and the Father will reveal it to you.
Finishing the Work
Jesus lived with this attitude: “I must finish the job my Father sent me to do before it gets dark. The night is coming when no one will be able to work.” (See John 9:3, 4.)
Jesus saw the darkness of night coming. Can you see it coming? Do you share the vision Jesus had?
The fields are already white for harvest, and there is too much to do to be indifferent toward God’s purposes or live for ourselves. “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
We are running out of time and have none to waste. The time you waste can never be recovered and reused, but the time you redeem and use for God’s glory earns rewards for eternity. v
Has this reality gripped your heart? Or are you giving your time to casual living? Are you living for fun and entertainment or is the calling of God burning in your heart?
God is urgently calling you to give your life completely to the cause of His Kingdom. Like Jesus, make pursuing His purpose the central drive in your life. Nothing matters more.
Eating the Will of the Father
Doing His Father’s will brought lasting satisfaction and fulfillment to Jesus. It was what fueled Him: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). This purpose energized Jesus and brought fulfillment far greater than anything the world can offer.
What is nourishing you? What is charging you? What are you hungry for?
Even if you never minister in a foreign country or inside a prison, you can follow Jesus’ example. Carry a burden for God’s kingdom and remember that time is running out. Seek to learn what God wants you to do and “eat that food.” You will find satisfaction and fullness of joy!
This burden is the foundation of Lighthouse Publishing and the Loaves & Fishes ministry. The entire vision of this ministry is based on the cause of God’s Kingdom, and we are striving to follow the pattern that Jesus gave us.
God has given us clear direction and purpose. He has laid urgency on our hearts to finish His work while it is day, for the night is coming when it will be too late. And He continues to fill our hearts with fulfillment and joy as we work with Him.
The Answer of Loaves & Fishes
Loaves & Fishes is our free discipleship magazine for prisoners. This magazine is designed to point prisoners to Jesus Christ and help them experience the life, hope, and freedom of a daily walk with Him.
While many evangelistic programs focus on conversion and getting prisoners to “accept Jesus,” there is a serious lack of consistent discipleship. According to a 2008 Pew Report, half of released inmates will be back in prison within 3 years. With proper discipleship and support, many of the prisoners can leave and never turn back to their old life again.
Loaves & Fishes is a teaching tool to disciple new believers and help them establish a consistent walk with the Lord. In teaching the importance of a daily walk with Jesus Christ, we address issues such as the following:
- Victory over sin and abundant spiritual blessing in the rich inheritance of Christ. God wants to give us power to live above anger, bitterness, and frustration.
- God’s standard of marriage and godly homes. God has a plan for our homes and wants parents to lovingly raise their children with vision and purpose to become useful men and women in God’s Kingdom.
- It takes more than one experience to be saved in the end. Obedience to the Scriptures and faithfulness to the Lord are a vital part of salvation.
- The fear of God is the foundation of walking with God. When we have a healthy fear of God, we are prepared to receive His grace.
Loaves & Fishes is a means of fellowship for prisoners to share poems, testimonies, and short writings with each other. Believers in prison are encouraged as they realize they are not alone. This spiritual outlet motivates prisoners to express their faith and build up fellow-believers.
Many prisoners cannot afford a magazine subscription, and most prison chaplains are volunteers. The prisons do not budget funds for literature. That’s why we offer Loaves & Fishes free of charge to all who request it within the United States and Canada. This ministry is supported by the prayers and donations of churches and individuals who care for the prisoners.
Here is some of the feedback we have received from readers of Loaves & Fishes and those who use it in their prison ministry outreach.
“I have gained a lot of new insight and awareness of the Bible truths… I look forward to each issue.”
“The first time I picked up Loaves & Fishes, it was impossible to put it down. Once I did, it left me thirsting for more!”
“Those pictures on the inside cover and back inside cover are beautiful and outstanding. I cried as I looked at each one for they both ministered so much to me. The issue was volume 8, issue 1, 2010. Thank you for sharing them. I won’t ever be the same after viewing them!! May I have Loaves & Fishes sent to me? Thank you so much.”
“Your magazine helped change my life and convert my life and walk in the way of the Lord and lead a straight life. Thank you but most of all thank God for what He does for us on a regular day to day life.”
“We have received your exceptional donation of the most recent Loaves & Fishes. Words cannot express my gratitude for such a huge donation.
“It had been difficult to find enough of one spiritual publication to give to everyone who requests it. Because of your generosity, I am able to provide for so many more than I normally would.
“You do make an enormous difference in the lives of so many inmates. God bless you for letting these women know that they are not forgotten!”
“Thank you for this issue of Loaves & Fishes. It has truly brought more light into my life.”
“Thank you for your recent shipment of Loaves & Fishes. They are a popular magazine here and we are thankful for the regular shipments.”
“This is a very informative, uplifting, and helpful book and I’d love to have one sent to me if at all possible…. Thank you so much, because I really got alot out of this one issue that covers anger.”
“I found [Loaves & Fishes] to be exceptional in both the quality of the booklet itself, as well as its content.… I have diligently searched for resources of this nature for inmates and must say I have seen nothing on par with Loaves & Fishes. I pray for your continued success.”
“[Loaves & Fishes] inspired me so much that I turned my life over to Christ, and repented of my sins, and asked for forgiveness….
“I was enslaved by cigarettes, but I prayed everyday that God would take the habit away—and by the grace of God He did! Amen!! Now I’m smoke free. I would very much like to share Loaves & Fishes with my fellow inmates here, so they may turn their lives over to God as well.”
“Your magazine, Loaves & Fishes, is awesome. It truly is a blessing. When I was reading the different poetry, stories, and testimonies from the different inmates, I was truly fellowshipping.”
“When I can get my hands on your publication, I read it from cover to cover. I really enjoy them very much. I send the poems to my wife also.”
“I have seen your fine publication here in Attica from time to time. It is very good—first class! Readable and attractive. Keep up the good work. It is the best publication I’ve seen.”
“It is so wonderful and refreshing to see and have access to publications that unashamedly share the truth! (Full strength, not watered down).”
“After reading the Loaves & Fishes book daily for almost three months now and my little Bible, I have given my life over to the Lord. I had never been much of a religious man before now…. I cherish this old booklet like it was made out of gold. I have needed something this wonderful in my life years ago. Sir, I was wondering if there was anyway I could get a subscription to Loaves & Fishes? If only you knew how much I have read this old worn out book you would be honored to know that a man could read the same book so many times…. It’ll never be trashed, just retired.”
“As I was in my bunk worrying, stressing out and angry, my cellmate gave an issue of Loaves & Fishes. I asked him what it was and he said just to read it because I need to have more faith and love for the Lord. As I was reading it, I was astonished because I felt the book was talking about the same thing I was going thru. I’m a firm believer in the Lord, but I was lacking a lot of faith. Thanks to that issue, I am closer to the Lord. Now I see that I have a lot to look forward to when I get out.”
“I was in awe reading the awesome stories and other testimonies. I read the issue over and over until I memorized it. It is a beautiful thing you do for the prison society. Would it be possible to ask that I can receive the issues that are distributed each year of Loaves & Fishes?”
“I have come back to Christ after 10 years of worldly pleasure. My room mate had one of your Loaves & Fishes magazines in his locker and I read it and now I’m hooked. I need a KJV Bible and as much Christian reading material that you can send. I love reading stories of prisoners such as myself share their testimonies…. I’m thirsty for whatever you can send.”
“I’m a prisoner in Kansas and I ran across your booklet. I’ve really enjoyed it…. It has given me reason to get back into the Bible. I thank you for all you do.”
“I’m a Christian, bought with the blood of Christ, who really appreciated the articles, the study, the poetry, and everything else your publication Loaves & Fishes had to offer.
“This publication has been an uplifting enlightenment to me in my daily walk and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ!”
“I love your book. I came across it when I was locked up. I am no longer on parole. But your book has truly helped me in my walk with the Lord, and it truly helped me when I was locked up and in my dark times. Please, I beg you, I would love to still receive them.”
“As always, the work you do is wonderful…. I often wonder if you realize what a blessing from God that you deliver, through the little book you call Loaves & Fishes. Many thousands of people appreciate what you do.”
“Thank you once again for Loaves & Fishes. The inmates at the Tarrant County Jail love to read them and pass them on to others. You are a blessing to us in Texas.”
“Your publication has been very generous to our Chapel here at Walton Correctional Institution. We wanted to take the time out to say thank you for your effort, time, and expense involved in your donations and in the care of the incarcerated here and around the country…. We have made this magazine available to our men here at our Chapel and adjoining work camp. The magazine is a staple on our book shelves and loved by every one.”
“I’ve been in the word of God very deep for a little over a year. Thank the Lord I found the Bible. I was on a path to the gates of hell itself…. I have given my life to the Lord…. A friend in Christ gave me the Volume 4 Issue 1 2006 copy of your Loaves & Fishes. Let me say it’s just what I needed to jump start my life with the Lord. Thank you very much, now my question, will you please put me on your mailing list?”
“As I was looking through the in-house library shelf, I ran across your magazine. I took it back to my cell and started reading it. As I read on I felt a sense of peace and well-being. I have not felt either in some time. The poems touched me deeply. It gave me hopes of a brighter walk each and every day. The stories from others gave me comfort knowing that I am not alone. I very much enjoyed the whole magazine and learned so much. Thank you for all you do to help us Christians learn new steps in our growth.”
“Can you or someone write to me and tell me how I can get Jesus in my life? I am 42 years old and don’t know Jesus. Can you please help me?”
“These inmates are so eager to grow and learn, and it is difficult to tell them we don’t have what they need… the Department of Corrections does not allocate funds to purchase religious material. Therefore we must depend on Christians such as you to assist us in ministering to these men who need guidance and knowledge.”
Take a Tour
The circulation of Loaves & Fishes continues to grow. Today subscriptions exceed 75,000 copies. The chart below shows the growth since our first issue in 2002.
Most of the growth you see is viral, meaning it grew on its own from word of mouth and new subscribers discovering back issues, etc.
Loaves & Fishes Circulation: Copies per Issue
Through the years we have done our own printing for Loaves & Fishes. However, as the job keeps getting bigger, it’s become increasingly difficult for our limited staff to always print the next issue as soon as funds are available. We have found another print shop that is willing to produce the books for close to what it takes to produce them here. We don’t know what the future holds, but our goal is to be faithful stewards and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many prisoners as we can.
The Lighthouse Publishing Team
Our staff is made up of part-time workers. Some work in the offices at Lighthouse Publishing, and others work remotely from their homes. Volunteers usually come in to help prepare the large mailings.
- Darold Gingerich is general manager, as well as founder, visionary, and mechanic of the ministry. He helps make decisions, compile material for Loaves & Fishes, and a host of other things that keep him busy.
- Lavern Gingerich works in prepress and attempts to keep everything in the offices running smoothly. He designs and manages new publications and media such as Loaves & Fishes, newsletters, and the website.
- Rosanne Gingerich manages the bookkeeping and processes a lot of the mail, which includes entering orders and subscriptions and packaging orders for the mail.
- Anthony Hertzler works from his home in Oklahoma. He has a remarkable skill with words and serves as assistant editor and writer for Loaves & Fishes, newsletters, and other literature we produce.
- Mike Kauffman from NY selects and edits graphics for Loaves & Fishes.
- Matt Feenor designs the Loaves & Fishes issues.
See a photo slideshow of Lighthouse staff and volunteers.
3 Ways to Join the Team
We are seeking churches and individuals who are willing to partner with us in the task of publishing Christian literature for prisoners. The work and financial needs are far greater than what we can meet on our own.
Here are three ways you may be able to partner with us:
- Regular faith-filled prayers help us make progress.
- Spiritual protection for the staff of Lighthouse Publishing and courage to press on.
- Finances to print and ship Loaves & Fishes every three months.
- For all the prisoners in our country to hunger after truth and experience the love of Christ.
- Write a prisoner who wants a friend. We regularly get letters from prisoners who would like to have a friend to write to. If you’re interested, ask us about our Adopt-a-Prisoner program, which helps you connect with these prisoners.
- Give a donation to help publish Loaves & Fishes for prisoners. For around 40 cents, we can send one copy of Loaves & Fishes to a hungry soul in prison, who asks us to speak into his life. As a result, this prisoner can be encouraged to stand for the Lord amid much pressure and temptation.
It takes at least $30,000 to print and mail one issue of Loaves & Fishes (subject to change). If we had the funds, we could publish Loaves & Fishes every quarter and make much more of an impact.
If 350 people would decide to spend $1/day less and use it to publish Loaves & Fishes, that would give us $30,000 every quarter! Or if only 40 churches would commit to giving $250/month, that would also equal $30,000.
Will you or your church partner with us to disciple these prisoners who expect and desire for us to speak into their lives?
“Thank you so much for [Loaves & Fishes]. It is always great encouragement. It never fails to come at a time when it is very needed. God bless your ministry.”
The harvest truly is great, but the workers are few. The night is coming and our time is running out. Will you choose to pursue the cause of God’s Kingdom and base your drive in life on God’s purpose for your life?
Lighthouse Publishing is committed to providing Christian literature to seeking souls in prison as long as the door is open. We have no idea how long we will have the freedom to do this in our country, but if we all work together, we can make a difference before the night comes. There are huge opportunities for more lives to be changed in the prisons.
Please click here if you would like to give, or mail your gift to the address below.
Donations to Lighthouse Publishing are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. (If you have questions, consult a knowledgeable tax accountant, such as Shrock Business Services.)
If you choose not to give, but would still like to pray, please ask us for our free supporter newsletter, the “Loaves & Fishes Report,” for regular news, prayer requests, and answers to prayer. Or join our email list.
PO Box 332, Bedford, PA 15522
Thank you for your interest in Loaves & Fishes. May God give you clear purpose for your life and fill you with His abundant joy.
Scriptures taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.