Original Leadership and General Ministry
The Lord used Chaplain Ray Hoekstra to begin the International Prison Ministry (IPM) in 1972. The Chaplain then directed IPM until he went home to be with the Lord on November 20, 1997, at the age of 84. For decades, Chaplain Ray and his wife, Leola, made thousands of ministry visits into prisons across America and the former Soviet Union. They also distributed free Bibles, Life-Changing testimony books, and Christian study books to prisoners who requested them. Their ministry was supported in prayer and donations by Christians who listened daily to IPM's national radio broadcast.
Present Leadership and Ongoing Ministry
Upon Chaplain Ray's "home-going" to Glory, his beloved wife and partner Leola Hoekstra continued to faithfully direct IPM until 2002, when IPM's board of directors appointed Pastor Bob Hoekstra (Chaplain Ray's son) Director of the ministry. Pastor Bob is also the founder and director of Living in Christ Ministries (www.livinginchrist.org), which now operates as the teaching and discipleship arm of IPM. IPM continues the extensive distribution of Bibles, testimony books, and biblical literature to inmates in jails and prisons all across the United States. IPM also is involved with overseas parnerships in ministry to prisoners in Ukraine and India.
More About Chaplain Ray
Chaplain Ray's inspiration for prison ministry came to him at the age of nineteen. A personal friend of his, Ronald Bayles (who was a three-time loser by the age of eighteen) became a believer in Jesus Christ. Soon after his conversion, Ron hitchhiked more than three-hundred miles from Long Beach to Ione, California. There he spent a weekend with young Ray Hoekstra, who was working on the Frank Ringer Ranch. Ron shared the gospel, along with his testimony of a changed life. Ray Hoekstra became Bayles' first convert! Both young men immediately began preparations for full-time Christian service.
The following years presented many opportunities of ministry for Ray Hoekstra. Increasingly, he was led to use radio as a primary means for sharing the gospel. He became a notable pioneer in Christian radio ministry, serving three terms as President of the Southwest Chapter of the National Religious Broadcasters.
The distribution of Christian literature is the fundamental way that God has used IPM to reach prisoners for Christ. During many typical years, the International Prison Ministry has published and distributed hundreds of thousands of outreach items to inmates (including Bibles, New Testaments, Life-Changing testimony books, and Christian greeting cards). The testimony books are the true stories of ex-convicts who turned "from crime to Christ" and became vibrant, fruitful Christians. Many became very effective jail and prison volunteers. Some even established prison ministries themselves.
In addition to providing these materials free to every prisoner who requests them, this literature is also available to other prison ministries (through our Acclaimed Books department) for less than wholesale cost, in order to assist in their outreach to prisoners.
Overseas Literature Distribution
In 1990, Chaplain Ray offered to provide New Testaments and Christian literature in the Russian language for every prisoner in the former Soviet Union. This commitment was fulfilled by providing more than 800,000 New Testaments and literally millions of Life-Changing Books for the prisons of Russia, the Ukraine, and the former Soviet Republics. Similar Christian literature is now distributed by IPM in Hindi and other languages for prison outreach in India. Partnerships with national pastors continue to reach inmates for Christ in Ukraine and India.
Answering Letters From Prisoners
Every year, tens of thousands of letters from prisoners are received at IPM. Each letter is carefully read and prayerfully answered. All prisoners also receives a free gift of a Bible or other Christian books that has been requested. Additional and different books are sent every time an inmate corresponds with us.
Prison Ministry Available for All
The Lord can use all of His people in prison ministry. Some will go into prisons to minister personally. Some will provide funds to send literature into the prisons. Others will pray for ministries like the International Prison Ministry. We invite you to contact us for information on how you can be involved in reaching prisoners.
To God be the glory for all that He has done, and is doing, through IPM!