Assistant professor initiates book ministry, provides spiritual guidance to inmates

Alisha Newell




Jackson State University’s Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Dr. Barbara Howard, is positively impacting local prison inmates with her book ministry, Books to Prisons.

Howard is the founder and executive director of the Mississippi non-profit organization Hearts Desire Foundation. The mission of the Hearts Desire Foundation is to provide educational resources to local communities. Howard created the Books to Prisons ministry within the foundation to provide spiritual guidance, through Christian literature, to men and women who are currently incarcerated.

The Jackson native said she felt led by the Holy Spirit to start the ministry and to base it off of the scripture Luke 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Books to Prisons seeks to purchase books from Christian authors in the state of Mississippi and then donate them to prison libraries for inmate access. In October, Books to Prisons made its very first contribution to the Mississippi Department of Corrections located in Rankin County. The first book that was donated was a book authored by Howard titled, Wounded Sheep: How to Calm a Storm.

“After the leading of the Holy Spirit started this ministry, I chose to donate my book because I knew that this book was spirit led and would be a help to the inmates now and once they are released,” Howard expressed.

Before the books are dispersed among the inmates, the chaplain, Barbara Owens, has to read and approve each reading material.

“I was elated when I received the letter of acknowledgment from the prison chaplain,” stated Howard. “She gave such high regards for the book; it was very encouraging.”

Twelve of Howard’s books have been donated and dispersed to both female and male units. “The ministry’s next goal is to purchase new books from different Christian authors as it will also help the authors further their ministries as well as helping the community; it’s a two-fold effort to bless,” said Howard.

Sponsors for the October donation included: Mr. Aaron David Knox, Mrs. Valerie W. Morgan, Attorney Ava Jackson, Attorney Carnelian Fondren and Dr. Ingrad C. Smith.

If you would like to donate and be listed as a sponsor, you may contact Howard at Dr.BarbaraLHoward@gmail.com.