Malaysia (MNN) — Malaysia wasn’t originally in the 10/40 Window, which indicates the largest concentration of people who haven’t heard the Gospel. But when the 10/40 Window was revised, Malaysia was included since it’s nearby, and less than nine percent of Malaysians know Christ.
You may know of Crossroad Bible Institutes’ prison ministry in the United States, but did you know they’re in critical countries like Malaysia too?
Crossroad’s International Director Cynthia Williams was just in Malaysia visiting their ministry partners throughout Southeast Asia.
“The purpose of the trip was really to connect with our directors there and our ministry team, to get a better understanding of the way the ministry functions, to also connect with the volunteers that are such an integral part of what we do, and really get some feet on the ground and some eyes on what the Lord is doing there.”
For what exactly their ministry does, Williams explains, “Crossroad Bible Institute is a ministry that focuses on bringing Christ through Bible study and discipleship to inmates in prisons, and we are doing this around the world. It’s a very interesting combination of the prisoner component and the church component, bringing believers in connection with prisoners to bring discipleship and spiritual growth and really an understanding of who Christ is so they can grow in their faith.”
That element of integrating Christian volunteers with prison ministry is really a key component to Crossroad’s outreach.
“It’s an enriching process for both the prisoner of course, and their spiritual lives, as well as church members who come alongside to mentor and disciple and walk alongside the prisoners in this process.”
Crossroad Bible Institute has partner ministries throughout several countries in addition to Malaysia, like Singapore, Ghana, South Africa, Colombia, and Nicaragua. They are also currently investigating possible work in the Philippines as well.
In a prison ministry that spans across countries, ethnicities, and cultures, Williams says there is still one connecting thread of truth with each of the inmates they work with — something that is true in each of our lives.
“The need for Christ to come in to change their life is really the essential component, and that is true of course around the world.”
While Crossroad instructors and volunteers work with students in the prison system, they also maintain relationships and ministry even after those individuals have been released. In Malaysia, there are halfway houses they work through to continue discipleship and help with the societal transition.
Williams shares, “It was very encouraging to visit a lot of these halfway houses and talk with the leaders there as well as our students and to see the impact it has on their lives. When they are engaged actively in this faith-based program and the Bible study component, the discipleship component, that’s where you see a much greater decrease in going back to drug and alcohol abuse, and sort of struggling with this in an ongoing way. That cycle is broken.
“I often say if you want to be a part of ministry that is life changing, this is definitely one because all of the stories and lives are radically different.”
One student’s testimony was shared during Williams stops in Southeast Asia. It’s just one moving example of lives changed by Jesus Christ through their prison ministry.
“He was telling about how he continually relapsed into drugs, and had been back and forth into the system until he finally connected with Crossroad. And he was actually at that time working at the halfway house, because he felt so strongly the need to stay connected to the Lord and Christian community and the Bible studies. His life is just a completely different life than what he was before.”
Prison ministry really is a unique niche of outreach in the evangelism world, but something very close to God’s heart, who desires spiritual freedom for those locked in darkness.
Williams says this is their current prayer need at Crossroad Bible Institute:
“Please pray for our directors and their ministry teams. This is not an easy ministry, as I’m sure you can understand. It takes a very special calling to really connect at this level with those that are behind bars and not everyone is comfortable doing this. So the people that the Lord calls into this ministry are uniquely equipped to do this but really often face a lot of discouragement and difficulty…. It’s definitely important that they receive the strength and the encouragement that they need to continue on.”