Visitation Ministry

"I was in prison and you came to visit me." What if Jesus Christ were actually in prison? Would you take the time from your busy schedule to visit Him? Participating in a detention visitation ministry is one way to answer His call. In the U.S. immigration detention system, over 360,000 people are detained each year. That's 360,000 opportunities to visit Him.

In collaboration with partners all throughout the country, LIRS is committed to providing hope, strength and a voice for the detained, through supporting the creation and expansion of immigration detention visitation ministries. LIRS encourages the growth of visitation ministries through resource development, regular training opportunities and the distribution of small grants.

Download the 2017 Locked in a Box Discussion Guide.
Visit our Launch a Visitation Ministry page for resources.
Download our Host Family Resources here.

What is Visitation Ministry?

Abdinasir Mohamed, a Somali journalist, was imprisoned and tortured when he stood up to a terrorist organization. He fled to the United States seeking protection. Instead of safety, he found shackles. Abdinasir was detained and interrogated for 16 hours, and then hauled off to a detention cell. For 7 months, Abdinasir remained in detention, before being granted asylum.

When a volunteer visitor asked him if he missed his family, Abdinasir replied, “I miss my family, but I miss the sky more than anything else. Is American sky blue?”

Visitation ministry is a commitment to regularly visit with or write to individuals isolated in immigration detention, and to provide friendship, compassion and a listening ear. A mutually transformative experience, the simple act of listening has a lasting impact on individuals in detention, and on volunteer visitors. Through regular visits, you have the power to inspire courage and rekindle hope – to bring the sky.

For the individual in detention, visitation:

Offers hope, breaking up the monotony and indignity of incarceration
Creates a safe space to share stories, release frustrations and express fears

Helps to maintain familial relationships, while also building community ties and new friendships

For the volunteer visitor, visitation:

Introduces visitors to new cultures and lived experiences, while also exposing the indignity of mass incarceration

Forges new friendships, providing an opportunity to be inspired and humbled by another’s courage

Facilitates spiritual growth and deepens community engagement.

To learn more about what it means to be a visitor, check out our profile of Rev. Joe and Selena Keesecker. Read more

How can I get involved?

Visitation is impossible without the generous support of volunteers. Read more to learn how you can get involved:

Whether you are interested in writing holiday cards, hosting a film screening, or regularly visiting with detainees, we are thankful for your partnership in this important work!