International (MNN) — There's a lot on the horizon for Crossroad Bible Institute. They just premiered a brand new Web site, and CBI's Deputy Director of International Development left for Sierra Leone this week to open a satellite campus.
CBI also hopes to release a new program in 2014. It's called "Success in the Christian Family" and is designed to influence the whole family of incarcerated individuals for Christ.
"There's a Biblical way for the family to operate that God has embedded in the very structure of Creation," says CBI's Dr. David Schuringa. "When we fight that, we're asking for disaster; when we move with God's law as it's structured in Creation, then life can thrive."
Schuringa says 80% of incarcerated people grew up without a father in the home, and 60-65% of people incarcerated have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This occurs when a child's mother drinks during her pregnancy, which can lead to problems with memory, judgment or impulse control, academics, and low IQ. These can create a ripple effect stemming from individuals with FAS to their families and communities.
"Many of the families of people incarcerated are chaotic 24 hours a day, have serial partners, and so forth," Schuringa says. "The family's absolutely a mess."
He continues by explaining how many impoverished and uneducated individuals don't understand what a family is supposed to be like.
They think it's normal to have four different kids with four different last names," states Schuringa."We don't look down on them, we don't condemn them, but we know that there's a better way, there's a healthier way: and that is to grow a family God's way.
"If you have a Christian family and that kind of support — there's nothing more powerful than that kind of influence in the life of a person."
CBI is in its second year of reaching inmates' children through a program called Manga Messiah. It's the Bible in a comic format that's easy for kids to follow, and Schuringa says they're using it as a preventative measure to keep children out of the criminal justice system.
"Children of prisoners tend to be high at-risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, promiscuity, and entering into a life of crime," he says. "We're seeking to disciple these kids; we're seeking to be a steady presence in their lives.
"We're seeking to model Christian adults who care about them and can give them some guidance and some love and some security."
The program also helps illiterate adults in the South Pacific learn about Christ. Schuringa says, "That's been an unintended, delightful consequence of the kids' program: to help with the aboriginal people who need to know about Jesus in Australia and Canada."
In 2010, a study from the Pew Research Center's Economic Mobility Project revealed that one in every 28 U.S. children has a parent behind bars. According to the study, the total U.S. prison population more than quadrupled, moving from 500,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million. This makes the U.S. incarceration rate the highest in the world.
"These are the forgotten ones of society; it's an unreached peoples group," says Schuringa. "Here in the United States, the prisons and jails constitute the largest mission field in North America."
Would you help bring the story of Jesus to prisoners and their families? Click here to visit CBI's brand new Web site.
"You can find a dozen ways to get involved in helping prisoners, because this is what Jesus calls us to do; these are His brothers and sisters."
Most importantly, pray. Pray for the ministry of CBI, that they would gain more access to prisons. Ask God to move in the hearts of inmates to enroll in CBI courses, and pray for more volunteer CBI instructors who correct the lessons.
As Christmas approaches, Schuringa adds, "Save some money for the prisoners; remember the prisoners in your year-end giving."