“The Urgent Need for Prison Ministry”
The daily news is oversaturated with dismal events that will literally drive you crazy, if you don’t stop the insanity first. Everyone is self-absorbed in talking about how horrific the economy is, the increase in crime, the perils of a broken health care system, widespread greed and fleecing of hardworking taxpayers that is affecting everyone mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. While many people are standing on the sidelines whispering, criticizing and shaking their heads on how awful things are, there is one energetic and dedicated pastor from the small community in Pinopolis, South Carolina, who is continuing his ongoing mission to minister to the least of these…incarcerated men.
Rev. Lee C. Bines, a United Methodist pastor with an industrious weekly schedule, drives to the town of Ridgeville, South Carolina, about 25 miles from his church in Pinopolis, South Carolina, to an institution called Leiber Correctional Facility. The men of this prison are serving sentences for very serious crimes, including inmates who are on the state’s death row. Rev. Bines’ interaction with these men is through dialogue and not a monologue. He also uses this opportunity to minister to the officers and staff as well.
“They ask for me way more often than I can go. If I went every week, even every day, they’d want more. I go because I have to. I’m sent, but it takes a lot out of you. When the need is so great, it’s hard not to promise more than you know you can deliver,” Bines said.
Prison ministry isn’t a new project for Rev. Bines, because he has been committed to this personal call to action for over a decade now. Bines, who is the recipient of the United Methodist Men’s 2007 G. Ross Freeman Award says, “It’s very important for them to develop a sense of person, of member; so our meetings offer them a chance to interact with someone who cares.” The G. Ross Freeman Award recognizes the ministries of men in evangelism, missions and spiritual growth.
Although Rev. Bines spearheaded many projects and ministries in the community for almost four decades now, he is instrumental in bridging diverse cultures, wherever God appointed him in this season, to build and to plant. He takes advantage of those moments of silence, to hear what God is leading him to do and where He is leading him to go. “Somehow He’s always sending me to the hurting places of the church,” said Bines.
Many perceive incarceration as a process of “locking the door and throwing away the key.” When people are institutionalized, oftentimes there is a deep-rooted dysfunction and painful reason for their behavior. Although that cause does not condone the execution of the heinous crimes they committed, investigating the seed of the problem could very well hold the key that just might deter the urge to repeat such criminal activity.
There is a great call to action and an even greater commission to minister to the needs of the least of these, one person at a time. Be inspired to do something extraordinary, from something that is ordinary. Favorite Things for a CAUSE salutes Rev. Lee C. Bines, Pastor – Evangelist – Philanthropist – Bridge Builder!
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
- Matthew 25:40 (King James Version)
Wesley United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 775
Moncks Corner, South Carolina 29461