Sponsored in Texas by
The Heart of Texas Foundation & AWANA
“He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers….”
Beginnings of Malachi Dads: Turning the Hearts of Incarcerated Fathers to Their Children
with thanks to Kenny Lentz and Tracy Baskin
MALACHI DADS was birthed in 2005 at Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) in response to the heart cry of incarcerated fathers who, embracing their identity under God as spiritual leaders of their families, sought to be equipped to reach and to disciple their children in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world-wide children’s ministry, AWANA, joined hands with the men at Angola to help them create the platform. Since that time, Malachi Dads has become a “movement,” spreading to more than 18 states and some 50 prisons at last count. We are working hard to bring the Malachi Dads program to Texas, through the graduates of Darrington Seminary. But let’s go back a ways, to the origins of the “new identity”: the Old Testament prophet, Malachi.
The Malachi Dad Identity Originates in the Bible. The identity of Malachi Dads is taken from and grounded in the last chapter of the last Book of the Old Testament in the Bible. It is virtually the Last Word of the Old Testament, written in the context of breathtaking declarations by the God of the Bible. These declarations, beginning in Chapter 3, include the well-known promise concerning the Messenger of the Covenant:
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple … But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?”
And beginning with chapter 4, the Great Day of the Lord:
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble … But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings …”
Then comes the Last Word, which closes Malachi and the Old Testament:
“Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet….and he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and hearts of children to their fathers….”
Four hundred years pass between this last promise and its fulfillment as recorded in the opening narrative of the Gospel by Luke:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John…. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Therefore according to the Biblical narrative a Malachi Dad is one whose heart has been turned; as described by the Apostle in his second letter to the Corinthians:
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Overview of Malachi Dads
The Malachi Dads movement is coming to Texas in 2014, being brought in from the Angola Seminary experience by The Heart of Texas Foundation. It consists not just in a curriculum, but in a change of identity for the inmate father.
The Malachi Dads program, under development for approval by TDCJ as an official TDCJ Program, will begin at Darrington Penitentiary, among the general population, and will be supported, and participated in, by the students and graduates from the Darrington Seminary. In this way, the Seminary Graduates will be equipped to know the essentials of the program, its goals and methodology, because they will have actually become “Malachi Dads” as participants. Area churches, pastors, and volunteers from churches such as Freedom Center Church, Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Sienna Ranch Baptist Church, Simonton Community Church, and others, will be partnering with The Heart of Texas Foundation to identify, train, and equip free-world volunteers to assist the Darrington inmate fathers to pursue the 1-year curriculum. AWANA, the international children’s ministry organization, will assist The Heart of Texas and its volunteers with training and consultation as we move forward. We hope to incorporate Malachi Dads into the Darrington Model in 2014. We look forward to working with the security staff and Chaplain at Darrington Penitentiary to add this essential element in the Angola Seminary Model that we in Texas have been building. We will then share our efforts with other states as they request it.
Upon Graduation, the Seminary Graduates will become “Field Ministers,” to be moved out to other Texas prisons to serve on the Chaplaincy staffs. There, working with outside volunteers from local churches (who will be trained and readied by The Heart of Texas Foundation), the Field Ministers and volunteers from local churches(no particular denomination, but all connected with The Heart of Texas Foundation) will come into the local prison once a week to help the inmate Dads facilitate the Malachi Dads classes. In this context, we will thereby systematically spawn Malachi Dads chapters in every prison in Texas which has Field Ministers. Serious dads help bring safety, forgiveness, and reconciliation to a prison system, from the inside out: as has been proven at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Malachi Dads is a movement begun and refined at Angola, with the assistance of the world-wide children’s ministry, “AWANA.” Since its beginning in 2005, it has become a powerful movement in prisons to help bring higher levels of safety, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Malachi helps inmate fathers to reconcile with their children, and thus helps the children not follow their fathers into prison. It restores entire families as well. The curriculum teaches the men how to take up their fathering responsibilities even while they are incarcerated. The Heart of Texas Foundation intends to create a systematic method to install Malachi Dads Chapters in every prison in Texas, using as a core element one or more graduates of the Darrington Seminary as the backbone of each chapter. Success will be insured by the involvement of local clergy and church volunteers.
The Heart of Texas Foundation will be anxious to help establish Malachi Dads chapters in every Prison Bible College that might be started in other states, by being “good neighbors,” and sharing our methods and developmental manual.
The Malachi Dads Curriculum is currently based on 3-4 courses from Lifeway Publishing; however a new curriculum designed for incarcerated dads is currently under development for Malachi Dads by AWANA and will be available to all chapters by 2014. It is a 1 year curriculum, followed by a “diploma,” and a graduation. The men then become Malachi Dads for life.
Students and Faculty would be involved in training local free-world volunteers near the prisons where Malachi Dads chapters would be installed; in recruiting new churches to issue calls to men who might want to become Malachi Dads “Facilitators” and “Mentors”, and who would then go on to train others as well. Faculty members could sign on for a once-a-week meeting of as Malachi Dads class in a local prison to be Facilitators or Mentors. Faculty to help develop additional curriculum materials as needed in any given Malachi Dads chapter.
SEE THE USA TODAY NEWS STORY VIDEO ON ANGOLA’S