How God Behind Bars Is Bringing Hope to America’s Prisons

God Behind Bars Inc. (GBB) is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 that introduces inmates and their families to Christ and prepares them for a successful new beginning. Our vision is to partner with churches, community partners and faith-based organizations to offer dynamic, high-quality worship experiences, along with beneficial recovery programs, life groups, family reunification and reentry services to prisoners and their families all over the world.

When three of my closest friends went to prison I realized that the only difference between an inmate and myself is that they got caught and I didn’t. That is when God lit a burning passion in my heart to serve some of the most forgotten people in society. So, I began to wonder, what if God “showed up” in prison? With this desire to bring hope into a hopeless place I founded God Behind Bars with the concept of planting churches inside prisons, giving inmates cutting edge worship experiences through a live stream from a local church in the area. In preparation for our first launch we set up 300 chairs, and now 31 facilities later those chairs are completely full every week all the way from Alaska to Florida. We serve thousands of men and women on a weekly basis giving them freedom in Christ behind bars.

We realized that the work cannot end with the spiritual component alone; we must support the “whole” person knowing that over 90% of them will be re-entering the community at some point. This is where we help them plug in and grow deeper by overcoming their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We provide rich material in a life-group setting addressing family reconciliation, addictions, anger management, leadership, and continuing their walk with Christ.

The biggest portion of our ministry and my personal favorite is the family reunification piece. We have an event called “All is Bright” that is centered around the Christmas holiday, where we donate thousands of toys to our facilities and allow mom or dad to shop, wrap, and give 5-7 presents per kid. There is something about letting the mom and dad be the hero in their kids’ lives again. The dignity that the father and mother have on their face is invaluable, and what kid doesn’t love presents? The biggest part of “All is Bright” isn’t just that mom or dad gets to be a hero for a day, it’s that mom or dad now wants to be a hero in their kids’ lives forever.

With the current system that is in place, the odds are stacked against people being released from prison as they re-enter into society. Most inmates fail because they don’t have the resources they need, nor the network of people to support them. Our program equips them with the necessary tools so they can succeed on the outside and we walk with them as they begin their new journey. That includes reunifying them with their families, educating them with betterment classes, and connecting them with a faith-based network. We start by meeting them at the gate and providing them with what we call a “fresh start kit” that has things like toiletries, clothes, a bath towel, a cell phone, Bible, and more. Then we team up with the local faith-based community to provide the newly released inmates with vital support services such as housing, groceries, utility assistance, clothing, employment opportunities/training, parenting skills and much more.

We take a fully holistic approach because that is what it takes for our friends to succeed, and that success is exactly what we are seeing across the country. People NOT going back to prison and families reuniting for good!

Wardens are saying that the cultures of their prisons are changing for the better right before their eyes. We are seeing gang leaders, I’m talking the “tops dogs,” leaving their gangs to follow Christ, and profess a new name for themselves in Him. Families are being restored. Men and women all across the nation are walking out of prisons and never going back. We currently have programs in 31 facilities, and we have no plan of stopping until every prison hears His word. If we can change the individuals exiting prison, we can change the world.

Jake Bodine

Jake Bodine is the Founder & CEO of God Behind Bars. He is a passionate young entrepreneur who has a huge heart to see those who are lost find Jesus and success in knowing Him. Growing up Jake has always had a heart for the underdog and is passionate about using his gifts, talents, and calling to change the world specifically to a forgotten society behind prison walls. He has currently served as the CEO of God Behind Bars for almost 9 years and is Chairman of the Board. One of Jakes most recent accomplishments was being chosen as one of the top 40 Leaders in the entire city of Las Vegas and is now a part of the Chamber of Commerce through Leadership Las Vegas. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife Danielle and five kids Jaidyn, Steele, Brynlee, Harlyn and Leighton

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