USA (MNN) — Want to be pen pals with a prisoner? Crossroads Prison Ministries is in need of men and women to mentor prisoners in their Bible study program! It doesn’t take much time, and the impact is profound.
Douglas Cupery, church mobilization director with Crossroads, says they had a major influx of Bible study students from prisons across the United States this year. Prior to January, students had to pay for their own stamps. The cost, however, was too high for many.
“We would get letter after letter after letter saying, ‘I’ve got to quit doing Bible lessons with you. I’ve got to quit doing Crossroads because I just can’t afford the stamp,’” Cupery shares.
At the start of this year, Crossroads began covering the cost of stamps after covering the issue in prayer and with the help of generous donations.
This was a major blessing but it created a new problem. Now, they have significantly more students than mentors.
“Currently we have about 7,500 lessons waiting to go out to mentors. And there is an urgency in there. When you read those words in the Bible lesson, there are salvation issues in there. They are asking questions about who they are. Who are they in Christ? Who is this Jesus?”
To address this problem, Crossroads kicked off their We Over Me campaign to double the number of mentors this year in the US.
“We have about 3,000 mentors spread out across the States,” explains Cupery. “What we’re asking our mentors is to share their story of visiting the prisoner, of what they hear from the prisoner, what they have learned from the prisoner, what they are experiencing with other individuals.”
The hope is for current mentors to bring at least one additional person in their sphere of influence into Crossroad’s mentorship program.
“We’re kind of the logistical piece where we connect the prisoner with the Church — and for your listeners, you are the Church.”
Here is how it works. Crossroads sends the student in the prison a Bible study lesson. They fill out it and the lesson is processed through the ministry’s office and forwarded to a mentor.
For someone starting off as a mentor, it just takes about an hour of your time each week to go over a student’s Bible study lesson.
“You have all the materials you need to do that. You don’t have to be a theologically trained person. You go through that, you make comments, [and] go through the prayer requests. Then the key piece is you write that student a letter of hope and encouragement, maybe tell pieces of your story, offer some challenges, and mail that letter off to the student in the prison.”
Cupery as personally witnessed the profound impact Crossroads’ mentors have on the students they minister to.
“We have to remind ourselves that 95 percent of those we incarcerate are coming home. What does that look like for us as a community? What does that look like for us as the Church? In my opinion, there is no better time to reach them before they come home than to catch them right there in the prison where they are. They are feeling the most broken, the most lonely — and as we come alongside them, [we can] give them that sense of hope.
“When we as the Church reach the prisoner from the outside and say, ‘You are not forgotten. You are one of us. You are no different. You are created in the image of God,’ it just goes so far. We hear from prisoners all the time how much they re-read this letters and they hang onto them for years.”
Click here to learn more about becoming a mentor with Crossroads!
You can also volunteer at Crossroads’ home office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Find out more about volunteering here!
Finally, please pray for the Bible study program at Crossroads. Cupery asks for prayer for the students, that they will grow into deep relationships with Jesus and will share their newfound hope with others.
“The prisoner is not just a prisoner. The prisoner also has influence in his life. They have children. They are our parents. They are our grandchildren. So how can we help them grow so they can be positive influencers, men and women of peace to those around them?”
Pray also for Crossroads’ outreach to gain the mentors needed to minister to men and women in prison who are desperate for biblical truth and hope.
Header image courtesy of Crossroads Prison Ministries.