Papua New Guinea (MNN) — A recent graduation ceremony for 95 students may seem like a small thing, but when it's 95 inmates graduating from a program that has brought them the Gospel, the implications much greater.
Crossroads Bible Institute launched a new program in Papua New Guinea a couple of years ago that enrolls inmates to learn about Christ. It's a continuation of their program in Australia that began in 2002. Prisoners at Buimo Jail, in the city of Lae, enrolled at record-breaking rates, and the program was also well received by prison officials.
Sandra Raak, CBI's international coordinator, is excited because the program has come such a long way. In the beginning, "There was a language difficulty because English is not their first language." However, they found a way around that challenge by using pictures. "They started with ‘Manga Messiah,' and now they're working through Tier Two which is more of an advanced curriculum."
The impact of CBI Australia on the surrounding community in PNG is another confirmation. "It is humbling to see the grace of God not only at work in the prisons but also in the community of Lae itself," says CBI Instructor Keith Bruning, who attended the graduation ceremony. "The people in Papua New Guinea are in general a gentle and hospitable people; many are very responsive to the Gospel. CBI is reaching the hearts of many prisoners as well as those around them," Bruning says.
It's not only a study in freedom, but also creativity and faith. Raak notes, "It's amazing to me to see how independent Australia is. They don't get any support from the headquarters in the United States." The campuses of both Australia and PNG have been able to raise their own financial support. The cost of operating in this country is extreme. But God has been good to provide the money. CBI received large donations this past summer that helped to cover expenses of importing material into PNG.
CBI president Dr. David Schuringa says the progress in Australia is encouraging for the Crossroad community. "We are praising God for all of these answered prayers," he affirms. "And we know that there is a great need for the Gospel in Papua New Guinea, so we continue to pray for CBI Australia's efforts. God does not forget His people in prison, and neither should we."
Raak agrees. With what they've seen so far, the message has taken root in Buimo Jail. "We have three classes for Tier Two and they just continue to grow in the knowledge of Christ."
Financial support plants the seeds with the program. Prayer makes it grow. Join the CBI team, and pray. "Encouragement for instructors is always important, [as well as] encouragement for students as they continue their studies, that they can grow in their spiritual life."