The Coalition of Prison Evangelists (COPE), Ghana in collaboration with Ghana Prisons Service (GPS), has launched the first Prison Ministry Training School in the country.
It is meant to equip individuals with religious leadership skills to minister in prison facilities.
The primary aim of establishing the Ministry School is to train and provide spiritual maturity, equipped and motivated civilian chaplains and other chaplains who might be interested in ministering in prison facilities and other institutions like prison Aftercare and half way facilities, hospitals and rehabilitations centres.
The School was inaugurated during the 11th anniversary celebration of COPE Ghana in Accra.
Reverend David Ofosuhene, Chairman of COPE Ghana, said the School would introduce Prisoner and Family Ministry to maintain and build relationships with children of the incarcerated and assist them before returning to their community.
He said the School would train Ministers in different fields including Ethical issues in Prison Ministry, Ministry in Prison, Ensuring security in Prison Ministry, Introduction to restorative justice, developing biblical world view, care for ex-offenders, basic entrepreneurial skills, Old and New Testament.
“We need qualified prison evangelists, ministers, workers and facility staff of discipline evidenced by educational training and orientation to assist in saving the incarcerated in prison,” he said.
Leopold Kwame Amoah Ansah, Director of Prisons in Charge of Technical and Services, launched the School on behalf of the Director General of GPS.
He said the School would coordinate the activities of Reverend Ministers, non-governmental organizations, and other bodies that visit the prisons to ensure that what is imparted into the inmates is in conformity to their teachings to secure their welfare, rehabilitation and reformation.
He noted that the Prisons Service Council initiated the “Efiase project” to rehabilitate the centres used to train convicts and ex-convicts in both vocational and technical skills, therefore they appeal to Ghanaians to support them either in cash or resources to rehabilitate the centres.
Leopold Amoah Ansah urged the public to support the Service so that rejecting of prisoners does not make them hardened prisoners or ex-convicts than they are already but rather make them better people and contribute their quota to the development of the nation.
Missionary Serafin Charger Ilao of the Destiny International Fellowship delivering a keynote address said most prisoners are illiterates who need to be equipped with skill both in formal and informal education, as well as vocational and technical training.
“That is supposed to be a responsibility of COPE, the Ghana Police Service or GPS, but that of the entire nation,” he said.
“I have learned a lot from this initiative as someone who also works with juvenile prisons in the Unites States. This is because outside, we just minister and encourage prisoners who reintegrate their lives back into the society themselves without such support making some of them worse than they were.”
He advised civilians to acknowledge ex-convicts and help them reform and reorganize their lives since they also deserve better lives.
COPE Ghana is a voluntary coalition of prison evangelists, churches and organizations working in prisons in Ghana with its headquarters in Texas, to facilitate the information of convicts and re-integration of ex-convicts into the larger society, promote collaboration and unity among various prison ministries.