Ministry focuses on prison system

Todd G. Higdon

Women at Faith Baptist Church in Neosho, Mo., recently gathered for a Ladies’ Christmas Fellowship to hear ex-felon Stacey Smith discuss her "Prison to Purpose" ministry.

Smith, who had a 60-year drug sentence, is the program coordinator for the ministry she began in 2005.

Prison to Purpose project coordinator Ann Bollinger said the faith-based program is effectively used for those who have participated in the Arkansas prison system's Principles and Application for Life program at McPherson Women's Penitentiary.

According to the program's mission statement, Prison to Purpose aims to "present life-changing truths from God’s word to ex-offenders, churches and community organizations. Many people live in the prison of their own minds and they are not experiencing the freedom that applying God’s word can bring. For this reason, Prison to Purpose’s vision extends to all people, not only to the ex-offender.”

Smith was sentenced in 1991, and soon after her incarceration started learning about God, applying it to her life and helping other inmates. She was given clemency in 2004. Soon afterward, she began the ministry “Prison to Purpose” to further train individuals who had been released from the Principles and Application for Life program. For the past two years, she has also taught four days a week in the PAL program.

“People in the Neosho area, surrounding areas and actually nationwide have been helped through this ministry,” Bollinger said. “Prison to Purpose conferences are one-day training sessions for individuals who desire to become equipped in applying God’s word to life situations. The conferences are designed to challenge human reasoning and to counter it with Biblical truth.

“We have been able to introduce many who are interested in helping their families and churches receive the same Biblical training given in prison that is very much also needed in the ‘free world,’” Bollinger said.

Future mini-conferences for Prison to Purpose are planned for the Southwest Missouri area in 2008.

For more info, go to: or e-mail:

Neosho Daily News