Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach looking to raise money for ministry work

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:31 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Kingsway Prison and Family Outreach ministry has been providing help to inmates and people coming out of prison since 1983. Now the organization is asking for the public’s help to raise money so it can continue its services and expand the ways it can help people turn their lives around.

“We’re always looking for people who want to go in [to prisons] and help with church services. If they’re not real local, we can get them in another prison and expand, So it’s hard to say what all we could do if we had the support in the funds,” said Louise Jennings, the director of Kingsway.

Jennings, 86, has run Kingsway for over 40 years and has helped countless people in that time.

“People ask me what my hobby is and I always tell them ‘people’ I just enjoy working with people and want to see them succeed,” she said.

Jenning has spent decades helping people in or just coming out of prison turn their lives around. She said she can relate to them and wants to help them realize they can change for the better.

“I myself was an alcoholic and a drug addict. In 1975, I accepted Jesus and decided from that time on that I wanted to do what he wanted me to do. ‘75 was the beginning of the rest of my life,” she said.

One thing the organization is hoping to do in the future once it raises more money is to hire its first-ever paid director or administrator to keep the program running for years.

“We have never had paid staff. I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I don’t receive a salary,” said Jennings. “At my age now we can’t really depend on me to take it much further and I just want to see it continue once I’m gone.”

Heather Hensley first learned about Kingsway when she was an inmate at Rockingham County Regional Jail nine years ago.

“I’m sitting in the pod and I get called out and there was this little woman and her name was Louise. We were in a very small room and she was just sitting there smiling and I was very clueless as to why we were visiting,” said Hensley.

“She said, ‘Well I’m here to pray for you,’ and I thought that was extremely special and very on time because at that point I needed a loving face and a pair of hands that held mine.”

Hensley said Kingsway also helped her and her children out when she was going through a tough time around a year and a half ago when her husband was incarcerated. She asks anyone who can donate to Kingsway because it is a truly good cause.

“Whether you are an ex-offender, an offender, the wife or husband of an offender, they’re here with no judgment. They tell you you are forgiven and show you that you still matter, you’re not a defect. It’s very beautiful their ministry, they don’t ask for anything in return,” said Hensley.

Hensley said Loiuse is an angel walking on earth and that she helped her turn her life around.

“She started a very beautiful spiritual journey for me. She is someone that doesn’t leave, she is someone who does not judge. She has a very open heart and an open mind. She is very understanding and loving in the times that it’s needed the most,” she said.

Kingsway offers a number of different ministries to those in prison and provides help in many ways to those who have just gotten out of prison. Louise Jennings said anyone who volunteers will not be disappointed in the difference they are able to make.

“Just showing love and knowing that somebody cares for them. It’s hard to describe until you meet one of them and actually find out where they’re coming from,” said Jennings.

Kingsway is hoping to raise $11,000 for its ministry as part of the Great Community Give. You can donate and learn more about its ministry here.

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