Dominican Republic (MNN) — You’ve heard us talk about Crossroads Prison Ministries and their outreach to the incarcerated through Christian mentors and Bible studies. The latest country they’ve added to their ministry map is the Dominican Republic, and they’re very excited about the program startup.
Crossroads’ Cynthia Williams says they’ve partnered with Dr. Luz Rojas Soriano, a medical doctor who was already carrying out prison ministry with her husband in the Dominican Republic.
“When [Dr. Soriano] heard about us through a friend, she contacted us and wanted to talk about partnering with us for the work they’re doing in the prisons. I was able to visit the D.R. in October and spend some time with them doing training and helping them do a church connection effort to raise up their team of volunteer mentors. At the same time, I was able to visit the prison complex they’ll be starting in and also make connections within the correction system with key individuals that will also help to open the doors,” Williams shares.
“Dr. Rojas [Soriano] brings much more than just maybe a Bible study. She comes in with medical help, with practical help, if they need someone to call a family member or bring clothing, those practical things. She brings a lot of love and hugs. As I was walking behind her, I just saw her continually reached out towards to hug and to talk to her, so she’s a wonderful presence within the prison system and highly respected.”
The ministry program officially started the last weekend of January. With the initial startup in the one correctional facility, Crossroads’ program was instantly full, and they have several others in the prison who still want to enroll. So they’re looking to further expand as soon as possible, and Dr. Soriano is working to build her team of volunteer mentors.
Williams says there’s also opportunity to go further with the Bible programs across the D.R. “In talking with one of the correction superintendents of education for the entire country, the question was asked, ‘How soon can we get this to all of the prisons in the country?’ So we saw the door was not open just to this particular prison facility, but now is open to all of the prisons in the D.R.”
Williams shares the story of one particular volunteer mentor she met in the Dominican Republic with an interesting and moving connection to Crossroads.
“When I was there and we were getting ready to go into the prison, we were joined by a couple of other people who were going to be a part of our prison ministry team that day to go in and do a service and lead a time of worship where we could talk with the prisoners there.
“One of the members of the group, his name is Carlos, shared with me that he had actually be incarcerated in the U.S. and during that time, he had given his life to Christ. He came in contact with an enrollment form for Crossroads and thought, ‘Well, I really need something. I’m by myself here in the United States, my family is in the D.R., and this might be a really good opportunity to connect with people on the outside who can help me grow spiritually.’”
Carlos enrolled in Crossroads’ program and went through the biblical study courses until he was freed and deported back to the D.R.
“Now he is an active church member and an active member of the prison ministry team that Dr. Rojas [Soriano] has had for some time now. So we’ve seen kind of the full-circle of the program, where someone has come to know Christ and has grown through their connection with Crossroads…and is going into the prisons themselves to now take the Crossroads program to students in the prison.”
And then, pray for more volunteer mentors to join Crossroads Prison Ministries in the D.R. Pray also for there to be a sweeping Gospel movement in Dominican prisons, and that those incarcerated would come to know Jesus Christ as Savior over their lives.
“We know it’s not our program,” says Williams, “we know it has nothing to do with the lessons, it is all about God’s Word changing lives. The curriculum, the courses, and the mentoring are just tools the Lord uses to bring people to Himself. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word touching lives and changing them for eternity.”