Visit those in prison?

The Bible tells us several things about those in prison: we are to visit them, pray for them, remember them as if we were in chains with them.  Many of our “heroes” in the Bible were in prison at times so I’d like to share with you one way I minister to those in prison.

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Years ago, I heard about Crossroads Bible Institute from Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship updates on Christian radio.  Crossroads is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It had a small beginning:

Over thirty years ago, Tom de Vries started Crossroad Bible Institute (now Crossroads Prison Ministries) along with his family members and his circle of friends at church. Tom was a real estate agent turned car salesman who had a passion for prison ministry.

As Tom began visiting the prisoners in his local jail, he realized they needed more than just accepting Christ, they needed to be discipled.  He began regular visits to mentor the prisoners he worked with, but was frustrated that he’d get there to work with his students and they’d be gone; transferred and hard to keep track of.  Tom and his brother got together and found a way to mail the lessons to the prisoners, recruited local churches to send the lessons, correct the lessons and add an encouraging letter to send back with them.  (info from https://cpministries.org/about-us/our-story/) I encourage you to check out the website and watch the video/read the whole story .

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Crossroads answered my question of how I could minister in prison as Jesus tells us to do. About 6 years ago, I inquired and filled out the application to be an Instructor.  I watched the video and filled out the booklet they sent me for the training, and shortly after that, I got my first  student’s lesson in the mail. I started with Tier 1 students, getting a different prisoner’s lesson in the mail each Friday.  I corrected the lesson, then wrote an encouraging letter on the stationary Crossroads included in the packet, then mailed the lesson to the student.  It was nice to be able to accumulate a list of Scriptures I could use for the Tier 1 lessons and I met many students that way, always letting them know I’ll be eager to see them in Heaven.  After a couple years, Crossroads had developed Manga Messiah course for the prisoner’s children.  I was an Instructor for those lessons for a couple years as well as the Tier 1.  It was fun to be able to add stickers to the lessons!  I next added a Tier 2 student.  These students stay with you for the whole tier, which gives you the opportunity to get to know the student well and observe their progress as your relationship grows.  Refreshing to see prisoners growing in wisdom and godliness and coming into God’s destiny for them!

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What’s the training?  a video with a workbook; they send you all your lesson answer pages with dividers to go into a 3-ring binder as well as your first student report sheets.  They have an excellent support system.  Your information is never shared with a student other than your first name and your address is never on anything that goes to the student.

What’s the time commitment?  I spend 1-2 hours a week on a lesson and the encouragement letter.

What’s the cost?  $.71 for a 2 ounce stamp,  $.72 for a lesson with the quarterly Journal.

Recently, Lisa Blystra became President & CEO and several changes are happening.  The organization changed from Crossroads Bible Institute to Crossroads Prison Ministries to describe the program better.  The curriculum is being re-vamped and expanded after working with the students to find out what they thought.  In January, funds came in to pay postage for the lessons.  The students say: “Something as small as a stamp seems BIG to me”.  Many students dropped out or didn’t start Crossroads lessons because it is difficult to get stamps and difficult to find the money for them.

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Did you know Crossroads is quickly expanding?  They now have extensions in:

  • Canada

  • Guatemala

  • Dominican Republic

  • Colombia

  • Ecuador

  • Nicaragua

  • Peru

  • United Kingdom

  • Benin

  • Ghana

  • Sierra Leone

  • South Africa

  • Tanzania

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  • Pakistan

  • Kenya

  • India

  • Malaysia

  • Philippines

  • Thailand

  • Singapore

  • Australia

  • New Zealand

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I encourage you to visit http://www.cpministries.org  for more information.  It’s a wonderful ministry to be part of!  (sorry, I haven’t figured out “hyper-link” yet; right-click on the address and it will give you option to go to the site)

 

3 thoughts on “Visit those in prison?

  1. Wow, what a neat way to serve Jesus by reaching out to those in prison. So exciting to hear how you are making a difference in people’s lives in this creative, effective way! Any idea if Crossroads will be expanding their ministry into Brazil anytime soon? I haven’t heard of much prison ministry going on here; but lots of negative things about conditions, so imagine it would be well-received.

    Liked by 1 person

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