Changing lives through letters: A Crossroads Prison Ministries mentor’s story

By March 4, 2021

USA (MNN) — Ever feel like you want to share your faith with others, but you don’t have many opportunities? Or maybe having a Gospel conversation seems intimidating when you have to think of what to say in real-time?

Crossroads Prison Ministries connects Christian mentors with men and women in prison through mail-in Bible studies. And it’s the perfect opportunity to encourage someone else with the Gospel.

Last week, we talked about volunteers from South Church in Lansing, Michigan who partnered with Crossroads to encourage inmates by writing letters.

Marlene Tebben, a Crossroads mentor from South Church. (Photo courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)

Today, we’re sharing the experience of Marlene Tebben, a South Church volunteer who has been with Crossroads on-and-off for 30 years.

Tebben explains, “I have the tier-one students. I write to a different one every week. And then I have two tier-two students, and those are ones that are specifically paired with me. I’m the only one that writes to them. I get about one a month from each of them. So that’s an opportunity to build a relationship with one prisoner in a deeper way.”

As Tebben engages the students in prison and leads them through the Crossroads Bible studies, it fosters authentic conversations about life and faith.

“It’s just an incredible blessing. I think if you’re praying about how you can share your faith with someone, this is a wonderful opportunity because you’re sharing with new believers, you’re encouraging them, you’re giving truth to seekers, and then you’re also discipling people who have been in the faith but find themselves behind prison walls.”

One of the ways Crossroads supports its mentors is through a monthly newsletter. It offers tips on what to talk about with Bible study students as well as insight into what prisoners deal with on a daily basis.

(Image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries)

Through something as simple as exchanging letters with prisoners to communicate Christ’s love, Tebben has seen lives changed – including her own.

“I think it has really deepened my gratitude for what I have and it has very much strengthened my reliance on the Holy Spirit to figure out words that I can write for this specific prisoner. And it’s amazing — when I pray before I write the letter — what starts coming out of my pen that I had not intended to say.”

The following letter is a meaningful response Tebben received from a Crossroads student:

“Dear my Crossroads mentor, I pray this letter brings you as much joy as your letters bring me. May all God’s love, peace, truth, and grace be in your heart and life. I wanted to write you and say thank you for taking the time to comment on my studies with encouraging feedback. I appreciate your prayers. Being a servant and reflecting Jesus’s love to the world is what it’s about. So may you continue to serve Him with all your heart, mind, and soul. God is transforming me into His likeness more and more every day. It’s all praise to Him. I know God has a huge calling for me as a chosen agent in this kingdom. So I’m just trusting in Him and following the Holy Spirit. I lead a little Bible study on the yard and it’s such an honor and privilege to be used as an instrument of righteousness to give Him glory. And it brings me a feeling of joy and fulfillment to be a part of something bigger than me in the world. I wanted to share a word of encouragement with you since you are a blessing in my life. During these times, cling to Jesus, stay in the throne room because our country needs prayer more than ever. I like to remind myself that adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God. Take care. May God keep you safe and healthy.”

You can become a mentor with Crossroads too and advance the Gospel with men and women in prison. Click here to learn more!



Header photo of Marlene Tebben (left) and her friend, Julie (right), both mentors with Crossroads Prison Ministries. (Photo courtesy of Marlene Tebben.)

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