Ecuador (MNN) — This past summer Crossroad Bible Institute
opened up a second distribution center in South America. The center, located in
Quito, Ecuador, seeks to offer hope to the 7,000 individuals crammed into the prisons
there, designed only to hold 2,000 inmates.
The prison system in Ecuador, in addition to the overcrowding,
is an "egregious situation," according to David Schuringa, president of CBI.
Prisons do not provide food, clothing or medicine for the inmates, and often
times the only way to obtain such items is to bribe a prison guard.
Schuringa said some reports say the prisons have rats the size
of rabbits. However, these prisoners' physical situation is not their only
"In these third world situations, they long for good
materials. There's a shortage of excellent Bible study materials because they
know that the prisoners need soap and medicine and food, but all of that is for
naught if they don't have Jesus Christ," Schuringa said.
Therefore, CBI came into Ecuador to establish a distribution
center to offer these individuals a long-term discipleship ministry. Schuringa
said they partner with other prison evangelism ministries, and once these ministries
move on, they stay to continue what was started. Prisoners can complete CBI
lessons for seven to eight years.
CBI establishes these centers through the help of indigenous
"The idea is to raise up indigenous leadership, so God's
people can … disciple the prisoners in their own country," Schuringa said.
In Quito, the distribution center's director, Angel Aguirre
Villamar, is not only indigenous, but he spent years in the prison system,
which allows him to better understand the system and reach prisoners.
Along with Aguirre, CBI is offering these prisoners hope.
"When you are totally ignored, totally an outcast, totally
forgotten, when somebody just comes in there with the hope of the Gospel to
show them the love of Christ, to teach them God's truth, that can mean a world
of difference for these folks," Schuringa said.
CBI has also set up another distribution center in Colombia,
as well as in Nicaragua, Canada, Ghana, Australia and New Zealand. In
addition to these centers, they will be announcing two more in Africa and their
first in Asia.
Schuringa said their greatest challenge is being able to
effectively reach prisoners because of the corruption of the system. Therefore,
he asked for believers to pray for justice to be sought in the system and for the
church to rise up and provide the prisoners with what they need.
Visit CBI's Web site for more information and to learn how you can help.