The Biblical term, Yokefellow, which is used in Philippians 4:3, is clearly derived from Christ’s call to discipleship — “Take my yoke upon you…” (Matthew 11:29). That call, “to make disciples,” is emphasized in Matthew 28:19 (i.e.: “the great commission”).
Throughout Yokefellows’ history, the following five (5) selected attributes of discipleship have been taught and highly valued. These attributes were commonly referred to as “Marks of a Yokefellow”.
“Search me , O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts,
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
— Psalm 139:23-24
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue,
he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
— James 1:26
In addition to the above five attributes, it is absolutely essential that YPM volunteers are nonjudgmental, supportive, and caring. Henry G. Covert, a 19-year police veteran and a 6-year prison chaplain, describes the reason why in his book Ministry to the Incarcerated .
“Prison volunteers provide a nonjudgmental, supportive, and caring presence; therefore, they help fill a deep void in the prisoner’s life. Their presence affirms that there are people who care about the struggles and needs of convicted criminals and thus communicates the message that all human life has value…. Prison volunteers bring life and hope to people who desperately need acceptance and the motivation to improve their lives. They combat the fatalism of prison environments.”
More than a Church Goer
A Yokefellow is a committed Christian; a committed Christian is a yokefellow. A Yokefellow knows that he/she is yoked with Christ and with Christ’s other disciples. Yokefellows are committed to continually work within the life of the church, and they see the renewal of persons, church and society through the penetration of every area of life. By encouraging better discipleship, a Yokefellow seeks to strengthen the existing church. A Yokefellow is more than a church-goer:
“The evangelical Christian, as a direct result of commitment to Christ, being yoked with Him, and consequently with his fellow Christians, is no longer a mere ‘churcher goer.’ …. ”
— Dr. Elton Trueblood, Dec 1977
“To be an effective volunteer in prison you must lose your self because self will get in the way of faithful, compassionate and effective ministry every time.”
— Rev. Ulli Klemm
Under YPM Umbrella
YPM volunteers can feel confident that they are under the auspices of a mature and effective organization whose primary concern is for the souls of at-risk youth, inmates, and returning citizens and the safety and well-being of all their volunteers. To this end, YPM trains and supports volunteers to operate in various positions related to prison ministry. All volunteers must be in agreement with our Statement of Beliefs and those directly involved with working with inmates and returning citizens must be certified bi-annually.
“The Yokefellows, unlike most people, accept the prisoner as a brother, in fact a wounded brother in need of special care. None of them made any speeches or wore any labels, but each time they came, their presence was telling me that I was a person, someone worthy of Christ’s love and forgiveness. They didn’t have to tell anyone they were Christians; in the simple giving of their love and care, they said it all.”
~ Jeb Stuart Magruder of the Watergate Affair
“I never before knew a people who wanted to visit me in prison. I couldn’t even count on my family. But I learned to count on my brothers in Yokefellow. They helped me with my attitudes and my purpose for life. They understood my problems; my difficulties. They are involved in my life. I found strength, encouragement and fellowshp. I found a new “me” through the Yokefellowship.”