USA (MNN) — Stories of illegal immigration to the U.S. from
Mexico pepper the news, and Arizona seeks to pass a law forcing them from their
borders. On top of this, the U.S. Hispanic population has reached 46.9
As this population increases, Crossroad Bible Institute
has found that the number of Spanish-speaking inmates has increased exponentially, now constituting
about 15 percent of people in the national prison system.
Cynthia Williams of CBI said, "We've noticed that the
prison population can kind of be divided into two groups almost equally, with
over half of those being incarcerated for sort of standard crimes, the other
half for violations of immigration laws."
Of the illegal immigrates captured and placed in prison, 80
percent of them are Hispanic.
Realizing this great need, CBI developed a Spanish version
of their curriculum in 2002, which considers the unique challenges facing this
For Spanish-speaking prisoners who committed a "standard
crime," CBI addresses issues such as regret and guilt, like they would any
other person serving time for robbery, assault or murder.
But for illegal immigrants, CBI addresses the unique issues
these individuals may encounter. Williams said, "Those incarcerated for
being undocumented immigrants also face issues of separation from their
families; concern for their family's well-being, perhaps in their home
countries; [and] a lot of anxiety over their future. We find that they really
have a lack of support from the outside while they're serving their time here
in the U.S. while they are waiting to be deported or even sentenced that …
produces a real significant sense of isolation."
If they choose to enroll in CBI's curriculum, they find
Christ's love and how He can deliver them from feelings of anxiety and
Williams shared one student's excitement: "I am very happy. I feel a great joy every time I receive a corrected lesson and a
comment, and even more the letters from the instructors. I keep them to show
my children and other people that I'm part of a great family. I ask that you
never leave this beautiful ministry to which God has called you. You can truly
imagine the effect the letters of encouragement have on us. It gives us the encouragement
that we so need in this horrible place, where so many of us have been abandoned
by our families and where we have so little value to society."
Yet, with this great response and need, there is a shortage of
instructors. "We're in real significant need of more instructors to be
able to accommodate this continual growth. We're asking the Lord to bring
forward people who have a heart, not only for prison ministry–looking at these
people not as people to be forgotten and thrown away, but people who really
need the Gospel and to know Christ and experience His love–especially [those] who
have a burden for Hispanic brothers and sisters in prison," Williams said.