Budget crunches hit jail; ministry rethinks approach

By March 10, 2009

USA (MNN) — One of the most widely-distributed Bibles published by  International Bible Society-Send The
is designed for a captive audience. 

Rich Blanco, IBS-STL's Vice President of Outreach, says the
economic crises gripping the U.S. cost them one of their discipleship programs. However, the need for something to replace it
was clear. IBS receives over 400 letters
a week from inmates around the U.S.

Rather than leave a population without access to Scripture, they
changed their ministry approach to prison ministries. Blanco
says it made sense to capitalize on the discipleship networking already in
place. "It's more effective for Scripture to be handed to an inmate
directly from a chaplain where there's a personal contact. "

Resources cost money, which is what forced the change in the
first place.  Blanco said it was time to
work smarter, not harder. "We're
developing new channels with key organizations like Prison Fellowship. We also have a partner in our own community
called 'Library of Hope' that sends Christian materials and Bibles directly to
prison chaplains to give them a resource library." 

A keystone piece of the program is the Free on the Inside
Bible. Developed in the 1990s in
conjunction with Prison Fellowship, these paperback Bibles and New Testaments
are powerful tools for prison ministry. IBS-STL
hopes to distribute 25,000 copies in the next 12 months through these

The Free on the Inside edition has easily become the most
widely-distributed Bible for a specific audience. Over the years, IBS-STL has given away nearly
four million copies to people who are looking for answers to the hard questions
of life, sin and forgiveness.

Blanco says, "It has over 70-pages of helps material, and a
lot of testimonials by inmates or former inmates who have had an authentic
relationship with the Lord. It's a source of encouragement for current inmates.
It also has some Bible study material and some helps for people who are new to
reading the Word of God."

For details on this version, or to help provide Bibles for
inmates, click here.


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