Metanoia Disciples Prisoners Through Long-Term Relationships
By Melissa Morgan Kelley

Mark Casson has quite a story. After spending 15 years behind bars for attempted murder, he is now a PCA ruling elder who serves as executive director of Metanoia, the prison ministry of Mission to North America (MNA).

“I’m not shocked by things I see and hear,” he said, “because I know the blackness of my own heart.”

But it’s just that understanding of fallenness that has allowed him to experience the extravagant riches of grace.

Mark became a Christian shortly after his arrest, leading him to plead guilty in court. Upon hearing that plea, the district attorney immediately dismissed a number of other charges, effectively sparing Mark from an additional 15 years in prison.

“I have a great understanding of grace and justice as a result of that,” said Mark.

Helping Prisoners Transition to Life Outside

The heart of Metanoia (the Greek word for repentance) is discipling prisoners through correspondence courses and building long-term relationships between Reformed churches and prisoners to help them transition to life after prison.

“One reason I succeeded in five years of parole was that I had a strong church connection,” said Mark. “That makes the transition so much easier.”

A distinctive of Metanoia’s ministry is that volunteer course instructors mail an encouraging letter to their disciple along with graded coursework. “It’s a huge blessing,” said Mark. “And it can pave the way for future contact by Metanoia mentors, including prayer, face-to-face visits, and eventually welcoming the prisoner into their church community.”

The discipleship courses also help the prisoner build a foundation of spiritual habits, including prayer, quiet times, and community with other believers—all skills essential to thriving outside prison.

“Through Metanoia, we want to remind the body of what Christ said,” said Casson. “‘I was in prison and you visited me.’”

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