(Photo: A Larry Ross)
Prison Fellowship International, the world's largest prison ministry with 127 member countries, named a new president and CEO on Tuesday. Also, PFI's Office of the President will relocate to Singapore, where the newly appointed president currently resides and works, further establishing the ministry as a global organization, officials said.
Timothy Khoo, a long-time member of its leadership team praised for his passion and vision, was chosen by PFI's Board of Directors. The organization said that after three decades of ministry growth under his leadership, Ron Nikkel will transition from the role of president to president emeritus.
"I am grateful for Ron's dedicated and strategic leadership over the last 31 years, which can be characterized by growth and success," Khoo said. "The scope of PFI's mission is enormous, as there are still areas of the world where children of prisoners are neglected, prison conditions are deplorable and individuals have not had the love of Christ shared with them. Our goal as we move forward is to have a meaningful presence in every prison in the world."
PFI works to improve the moral, social, physical and spiritual well-being of prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families and victims of crime, officials said. Khoo, a third-generation prison ministry worker, has been with PFI for virtually his entire professional career, having joined the organization in 1989.
"This is the right time for the next generation of leaders to assume the responsibilities that I have carried," Nikkel said. "I recommended to the board of directors that Timothy succeed me. I have worked closely with him for many years as God has prepared him for this challenge, and I have great confidence in him because of his love for the Lord, his experience, and his vision and passion for the future of the ministry."
PFI said the new leadership team, including Chief Operating Officer Frank Lofaro and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Carey, along with vice presidents Dan Van Ness and Shelley Trebesch, face a unique set of obstacles and opportunities. As prison populations around the world have grown rapidly, extreme overcrowding, poor ventilation, food shortages, substandard sanitation and outbreaks of violence have become the norm in some countries.
"Everywhere we look, we see tremendous need," Khoo said. "Many prisoners awaiting trial or unjustly imprisoned face overcrowding, disease and other inhumane conditions on a daily basis. For many, a prison sentence is, in effect, a death sentence. The plight of their children, the forgotten victims of crime, can be especially tragic.
"As we move forward, PFI will focus on improving conditions in prisons, rescuing the vulnerable children of prisoners and spreading the Good News of Christ's transforming power and grace."
Plans for Nikkel include his continued support of PFI's mission and ministry. Following a six-month sabbatical once the leadership transition is complete, he is slated to return as President Emeritus, working with Khoo and the board of directors and continuing to write, speak and travel for the ministry.
"Like our founder, Chuck Colson, I feel my call to serve PFI is a life sentence," Nikkel said.
The ministry's operations, headed by Lofaro, will remain in Washington, D.C.