New distribution center expands possibilities for prison ministry in the Spanish-speaking world.

By April 13, 2006

Colombia (MNN) — This week in Colombia, militia groups laid down their weapons and entered talks toward peace with the presidential administration. Even with the unrest that’s plagued the country, Crossroad Bible Institute is pleased to announce that they’ve opened a new materials distribution center there.

CBI’s Kathryn Shane is excited and says it’s a strategic advance for prison ministry.
Up until now, prison inmates had to mail their Bible lessons back to CBI’s headquarters in the United States, a long process that was not an ideal situation for Bible-learning and discipleship. Shane says, “So that’s what we like to try to change by having distribution centers. Instead of having inmates in Colombia having to mail their lessons all the way back here to the US, they can stay right there in the country.”

CBI is working through local churches to help inmates with their lessons and provide discipleship. Shane describes the importance, “What this really means is that CBI is not just reaching inmates here in the US, or in Australia or Canada, but that in Colombia, we’re reaching more inmates than we could otherwise, but then also it’s exciting because we’re equipping local church members there in Colombia to learn how to disciple inmates and to learn how to spread the word really from their own homes.”

It’s their first distribution center in the Spanish-speaking world, and their first in the developing world. A strategic move, says Shane, “The thing about having this distribution center in Colombia, as it’s a developing country, that creates some unique obstacles, but also, there’s a lot of economic instability and not a lot of safety there right now. So that’s creating some unique prayer requests coming from that distribution center.”

One of those prayer requests is for the deplorable conditions of prisons in Colombia. Shane says it’s an awful situation for the inmates to be in, and their physical conditions many times are a hindrance to focus on studying the Bible.

Shane also asks prayer for more people to be involved in the program, prisoners and believers to help with discipleship, “We just would pray that more Colombian inmates would enroll in CBI’s courses and just really find the true freedom that would come from God’s Word and learning more about His plan for us in our lives, and just that more Colombian church members would get excited about discipling inmates and get involved and go through the training so that they can do that.”

A unique thing to some Colombian prisons, says Shane, is that inmates are sometimes allowed to help other inmates. Christians inmates have helped deliver the CBI lessons to other inmates. Shane says, “It’s been so neat to see just these inmate leaders who have been transformed by God’s Word and now they’re turning around to help other inmates get involved with studying about God and Jesus and what the Lord has in store for them.”

The potential for Gospel impact is huge, and Shane says their outreach could have far-reaching impact, not just spiritually, but across the whole country politically. “The more we can get into Colombian prisons, especially being that for the last couple decades especially, it’s just been so violent and so overrun by the Guerilla fighters and the drug traffickers. A lot of those are in prison now and so the more we can impact them, the more impact we can have on the country as a whole.”

Crossroad Bible Institute’s future goals include more distribution centers in other parts of the world. Pray that God would continue leading CBI to greater effectiveness and impact in the lives of prison inmates around the world.

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