When Tom Bridges walks into jails and prisons to minister to inmates, he has one goal: that they understand what unconditional love of Jesus Christ is.
That they understand it is not what they “get” in life, but what they give away.
That life is not always about receiving, but what we provide our neighbors God’s love and ‘joy’ (Jesus, Others, Yourself).
“If you don’t have love, it doesn’t matter what you do,” said Bridges, also known as Brother Tom. “If what you do is not done out of love, there’s no profit – and no glory that goes back to the Lord.”
Since September 1992, Chaplain Bridges (right) and a team of volunteers have served Jesus Christ by fulfilling His command to minister to those in prison. When asked how many lives have been saved, he said: not one.
“We have witnessed Jesus Christ save over 30,000 men and women who have responded to God’s agape love by inviting Jesus Christ into their hearts,” he said.
Let God Arise Ministries is a non-denominational local outreach mission with the emphasis of evangelism and discipleship through God’s Holy Word. The jail ministry started years prior to Bridges being called to serve, having previously been overseen by leaders including Chuck Staub.
The ministry ministers to inmates from all denominations including Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Catholic, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Church of God, Assemblies of God, Holiness, and Episcopalian. It has reached other religions, too, including Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Islamic, Atheists, and even a professed Satanist, according to their website, with God’s unconditional agape love through His Son Jesus Christ.
“I was a manufacturer rep calling on heavy industrial plants dealing with the corrosion industry, and had (also) started working with Gideons (International) as a lay minister,” Bridges said. “Chuck Staub invited me to volunteer on occasions and because of circumstances asked me if I would consider taking the Chaplaincy.
“After prayer, the Lord gave me the ‘yes,’ and Let God Arise Ministries Inc. began. Jesse Williams III, a board member, stated after years of ministry that Let God Arise Ministries Inc. was, ‘The Best Kept Secret in Town.’
“As a lay person, the Lord led me to places like Frank Lee Prison and Covenant Village retirement facility to minister to the elderly. Then with the Gideons, I was invited to the city jail, and God began opening doors for ministry and I would just go. When Chuck decided to move, it became a full-time ministry.”
Bridges and others provide services every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Montgomery County Detention Facility – and city and federal jails in Montgomery – to youth as young as 15 arrested for capital murder, to men in their 70s.
“I was already used to sharing with the inmates,” he said of his time prior to overseeing Let God Arise Ministries. “The Lord said to me before going into the jails that my primary ministry was to Him and that He would take care of the inmates being ministered to.
“God just takes over. I just let the Holy Spirit lead the Chapel services. I stay out of God’s way, and let Him say what He wants to be said. I haven’t made one lesson plan in over 30 years.
“Inmates often will say whenever the Lord is speaking that they were just talking about or reading that very scripture. I will encourage them that God is confirming their personal walk with Him.”
When Bridges ministers, there could be one person who attends service, and sometimes, between 15 and 20.
Bridges and others provide services every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
at the Montgomery County
Detention Facility – and city and federal jails in
Montgomery – to youth
as young as 15 arrested
for capital murder, to men
in their 70s.
“It’s all volunteer, whoever wants to come,” he said of the inmates. “We can’t get everyone at one time. They are segregated due to court cases and cannot be mixed. We get them before their trial – and then they get sentenced. When sentenced, they’re farmed out to the prison system or will serve county time.”
Bridges said years ago, one inmate asked, “Brother Tom, isn’t it ironic that they take away our Bibles when we go to school and give them back when we are in prison?”
During the time he or a volunteer spends with the inmates, the inmates are provided their own personal Bible, a “Our Daily Bread” devotional – over 50,000 have been distributed over the years – and a prayer request card provided by a local church with an intercessory prayer team. Over 27 years ago, volunteers brought these prayer cards and distributed them to the inmates, and it remains an essential part of the ministry today.
“I tell the inmates that they have people that they’ll never know on their earthly journey that are praying over them,” Bridges said. “That they’ll get a tap on their shoulder one day in Heaven from someone who was praying for them. They are absolutely thrilled that people care that God hasn’t given up on them, and other believers haven’t given up on them, too.”
The most recent prayer cards came from inmates with first names including Linda, Kevin, Luis, Demetrius, Dnikko, Floyd, Kendarius, William, Quandarius, and DeShun.
Prayers on these cards include: for all to know God, my children and children around the world, bless my mom, teach me patience, protection and safety, pray for the sick, receive answers to prayer, understanding, God help me, reassurance, take bad thoughts away from me.
“All these needs are being lifted up by the intercessory prayer team at Frazer, and that has been going on for 27 years,” Bridges said. “We’ve had 50,000-plus prayer cards within that time.
“It shows the impact that it is having.”
He said Frazer Church receives anywhere from 70 to 90 prayer request cards from county jails every couple of weeks.
“I’ve been working with these cards, getting the requests out to the Frazer Upper Room Prayer ministry for a couple of years now,” said Sharon Sewell, with Frazer Upper Room.
“The requests from the jails are not new to Frazer prior to my work with them.
“When I hold a stack of these cards in my hands before I begin to put them in a form to send out as requests to the intercessors, I am always deeply humbled. Most, if not all, are heart written.
“The requestor is concerned about his family and friends, their children and others in jail. Most are not selfish in what they ask except in one area – Christian growth. Many ask for forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, to walk on a Godly path, to learn more about the Bible. They want to know God. It’s the heart of God they are after.”
They are thankful for those who pray for them, she said, adding “they love Tom Bridges who ministers to them. Often, they pray for him and his family.”
For the last two years, inmates have asked for revival in the jail, Sewell said. They have asked for God’s Spirit to invade their spaces and fill them with His Spirit.
“They are no different than any of us,” Sewell said. “They are people who have sinned, who are having to make restitution, repent and turn from their sin. But sometimes, I think these men and women are freer behind bars than those of us who walk around with unseen chains and bars. We are told to be still and know that he is God, to wait on God.
“Those of us on ‘the outside’ are so easily distracted. These folks have no alternative but to be still and wait on God. They have time on their hands, and they are using it wisely to pray, to grow, to learn, to repent, to restore and be restored. They are grateful for those who pray for them.”
Sewell said there are over 100 Upper Room intercessors who receive the prayer requests. And by the power of God and “His great love for all, their prayers are being answered. Pray God sends more laborers to this important mission field. Some of those in jail want to minister to others in their own communities upon release. They want to be a blessing because they have been blessed.”
In the words of the inmates to the Let God Arise Ministries team:
“Pray for us brothers and sisters that is still lock up, that still searching or looking toward God for salvation.” (anonymous)
“That everything that is for me be true and mighty. If it’s not for me, let it leave my life peacefully.” (anonymous)
“Pray for my little brother that he is ok and learning from his mistakes and becoming a man.” (Sequon)
“Keep Your Holy Spirit in me and around me.” (Jaderrick)
“I lost my jury trial. Am facing 30 years.” (Andre)
When Bridges ministers to the inmates and they receive Jesus Christ into their hearts, he tells them they are “New Creatures in Christ,” and all their sins are paid in full. They are washed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ and sealed for the day of redemption with the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17
When they are sentenced, “they are now missionaries to take God’s word to those the Lord brings across their path,” Bridges said.
He said an inmate with the first name Wilbur was sentenced to a 100-year sentence, and corresponded with Bridges after having attended an “evangelism explosion class.”
He was asked to later teach the class, Bridges said, sharing, “I have witnessed Jesus Christ to the warden of the prison facility, all the regular officers and every time I have a new cell mate, the Lord uses me to lead them to Jesus Christ.”
Bridges believes all believers want to hear, when they take their first breath in Heaven is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Want to volunteer?
Contact Tom Bridges at
Let God Arise is a 501c3 ministry and all donations toward it are tax deductible. Visit online at www.letgodarise.org to donate or for more information.
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer Church in Montgomery.