ISKCON Prison Ministry, Overview of the Year 2009
Posted January 14, 2010
Another year has passed, during which the prison ministry consistently nurtured the devotion of hundreds of inmates. New inmates were introduced to Krsna consciousness, taking to the chanting of the holy name seriously, while more established inmate bhaktas deepened their commitment by chanting and studying more seriously, and by giving Krsna consciousness to other inmates.
Candramauli Swami has compiled a book about ISKCON Prison Ministry. This book, entitled, Holy Jail, is due to come out for Nityananda’s appearance day. Stay tuned!
NEW ADDITION! We now have a small fund-raising website for IPM at: ipm.bbnow.org/
This small website will gives you basic information about our program and makes it very easy for you to donate, either through PayPal or credit card. Please take the time to visit this link and to share it with your family and friends. We are planning to set up a more extensive IPM website in the year 2010.
Last June, I revived the Freedom Newsletter which had been discontinued for over a year, as the volunteer in charge of it couldn’t continue his service. This newsletter is distributed to the inmates, who very much appreciate it. One inmate remarked, “This newsletter is like a mini BTG!” Our dear Bhavananda Dasa, an IPM volunteer based in Arkansas, is now in charge of this very important newsletter, and Candramauli Swami and Candrasekhara are helping with the editing process.
Also last June, alongside the Freedom Newsletter, I launched the monthly IPM NEWS, a short newsletter for the pleasure of the devotees, so that they may share in the prison preaching bliss. If you would like to receive it, please contact me at IskconPrisonMinistry@gmail.com
2009, however, had its share of heartache, as one of the pillars of the ministry, Shyama Priya Dasi, left her body in April, albeit under the most auspicious circumstances. She has left a lifelong impression in the hearts of devotees, inmates and chaplains as well. To this day, inmates regularly refer to her influence in their life. In a letter I received last week, an inmate wrote:
“Recently, I have spent some time preaching and giving many BTGs out. So if you wish, you may send small books that I will be more than glad to give out. And upon my release, I want to be a part of the prison ministry. I feel this is my duty, because I was actually raised by Mother Shyama Priya, who is our mother, and Mukta Kesa Dasa, who always encouraged me to become more purified for my future work in Krsna consciousness. Surely, I have never once forgotten the instructions of either of them.”
Kevin L. Brown
And Chaplain Hendricks, from Graceville, Florida, just wrote me, “Shyama Priya was always very helpful to us in obtaining printed materials for our inmates who practice the Hare Krsna faith.”
In keeping with her spirit, volunteers have pushed on with the prison preaching, sending hundreds of books, beads and CDs to inmates. New volunteers have also stepped up to correspond with inmates.
The prison ministry preaching is ever expanding, as inmates give books to their prison neighbors and word of mouth carries Prabhupada’s message to many more. Each book sent, each inmate touched, has a ripple effect, the magnitude of which only Lord Caitanya can fully understand. IPM volunteers can never say, at the end of the day, “my work is done”; there is always more letters coming in, more questions to be answered, more realizations to marvel at, and more material to send. Everyday feels like Christmas, as we share Prabhupada’s matchless gifts with everyone!
IPM is an infinite well of preaching opportunities! Not a dull day at IPM!
We pray that Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya bless IPM to continue to grow and expand, transforming the lives of hundred more inmates during the year 2010, making the unfortunate fortunate.
If you are interested to help by becoming a pen-pal, donating laksmi, books, CDs, or pictures, please contact:
Bhakti-lata dasi or Mukunda dasa
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616-2676