Conversation: Manny Mill
Responsibility to love
Koinonia House National Ministries, Inc., is a post-prison ministry based out of the Chicago area. Executive Director
Manny Mill knows firsthand the difficulties prisoners face upon reentry into
society. He recently spoke with Assistant Editor Jennifer McClure about these
challenges and the Christian’s responsibility.
tpe: What is Koinonia House’s goal?
MILL: We want to be obedient without delay to the Word of
God in making disciples, as stated in Matthew 28:19,20, and loving our
neighbor, as stated in Matthew 22:37-40. We believe many people coming out of
prison are disciples waiting to be made. To us, they are not ex-convicts; they
are Christian neighbors.
tpe: Your Web site,
koinoniahouse.org, states that of the 700,000 incarcerated individuals released
each year, an estimated 10 percent are Christians.
MILL: That is a conservative figure. We need at least 70,000
churches to meet the Christians at the prison gate. Question: Who is going to
step to the plate?
If you move from California to Ohio, you need a church
transfer. These guys are going to be moving from the church in prison to the
church on the street. But ministering to men and women coming out of prison is
like dealing with leprosy. People don’t want to do it. The challenge for the
church in America is to deal with the most critical, urgent and neglected
problem we are facing as a country and as a church — and that is a lack
of God’s love.
tpe: How many houses are available
MILL: We have three houses functioning and another eight
that are beginning. We equip and assist the church to love our Christian
neighbors coming out of prison. We do that through seminars, consulting and
training. However, our bread and butter is the Meet Me at the Gate Initiative.
tpe: What is Meet Me at the Gate?
MILL: Through Meet Me at the Gate a church
or prison ministry makes a commitment to be at the prison gate when the
Christian neighbor is released. They disciple that Christian
neighbor, preparing him or her for the reality of the outside prior to the
release. Once the Christian neighbor is released, they commit to take
care of 17 needs we have listed, including housing needs and three months of
When people are released from prison they have no resources.
So these partners are going to put a budget together to pay for these
neighbors’ expenses. Also, each released person needs to have at least three
mentors. First is a primary mentor, who coordinates the Meet Me at the Gate
connection for the church or ministry. Then there is a spiritual mentor and a
financial mentor. We’ll provide the training for the mentors and the host
tpe: What does Meet Me at the Gate
look like once the individual is
MILL: Every Sunday the host family will pick up the
Christian neighbor and take that person to church for Sunday School and worship service and then for a meal just like a regular Sunday.
In life, most things are caught, not taught. We want these
men and women who have never had a father, who have never had a life in Christ
outside of those walls, to be able to know how to live life. If we are going to
really solve this nation’s crime issue, we must create for released people the
family that they never had.
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