In today’s message of hope, World Race Alum Paige Deur (August 2017, W Squad) shares about her work with Crossroads Prison Ministries and how the church can bring hope to men and women in prison through correspondence Bible studies.

 


Paige processing Bible lessons in her basement under Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

 

10 million people are incarcerated throughout the world today.

2.2 million of those people are in the United States.

Last month, these men and women lost contact with the outside world. While churches were switching to online services, restaurants were opting for take out, and the world was adapting to home offices, distance learning, and new social distancing practices, jails and prisons across the United States closed their doors to visitors and volunteers.

As stay-at-home orders rolled out across the United States, we all have had a very small taste of the crushing weight of isolation that men and women in prison experience daily. Yet, as we’ve moved our social lives online, opting for Zoom happy hours and Netflix parties to escape the eerie silence, men and women in prison have found their loneliness even more compounded.

With barriers to proper social distancing and hygiene practices, many facilities have instituted full lockdowns as preventative measures, confining prisoners to 5-by-9-foot rooms or crowded dormitories. Facilities in New York City and Chicago, as well as in Michigan, have seen explosive infection rates.

During this time, many people, including those in prison, are living in fear and uncertainty. As the church, we have an incredible opportunity to share the Love that casts out fear with people in prison. One way to do this is through ministries like Crossroads Prison Ministries that are committed to providing people in prison with correspondence Bible lessons and letters from caring mentors.

In 2018, I came home from the World Race with a renewed passion for social justice and discipleship. After over a year of closed doors and temporary jobs, I came across Crossroads Prison Ministries. A friend invited me to apply for an open position and it didn’t take long to fall in love with the mission and the passionate community of people that keep it running.

For the past eight months, I’ve served as an Operations Coordinator assisting in processing the lessons and correspondence that flow through our office in Grand Rapids, MI to our students across the United States and to our extension centers in 22 other countries.

Crossroads’ mission is to connect men and women in prison with mentors on the outside in Christ-centered relationships so that lives, prisons and churches are restored through the Gospel. Crossroads Prison Ministries is a powerful way to extend love, hope and encouragement to some of our society’s loneliest people. During a time like this, ministries like Crossroads are more important than ever.

You can be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who are directly affected by the coronavirus through partnering with Crossroads Prison Ministries.

Here are three ways you can come alongside people in prison with the love of Christ through Crossroads:

  1. You can give your time. Crossroads has an ongoing need for volunteer mentors, especially those fluent in Spanish. Through the simple act of reviewing a prisoner’s Bible study and writing them a letter each week, you can bring hope and a resounding reminder that they haven’t been forgotten–all in the time it would take you to watch that next Netflix episode. You can sign up to be a mentor HERE.
  2. You can give your resources. Recently, Crossroads has begun sending postage-paid envelopes with our lessons to help eliminate a financial barrier for many students who were struggling to pay for stamps. This adjustment enabled more students to continue with their lessons and has led to a surge in enrollments. The increased participation in the program has led to increased costs. The total cost for postage for each lesson that goes out is about $1.50. Each week approximately 2,500 lessons leave Crossroads’ office to be reviewed by a mentor, which totals $3,750 in postage. You can contribute to help mail lessons here. A $15 donation would allow 10 men and women to receive a Bible study and letter of encouragement through Crossroads.
  3. You can commit to pray for our brothers and sisters in prison during this time. Here are a few ways you can be praying:
    • Pray for God’s protection over prisons from exposure to COVID-19
    • Pray that men and women in prison would sense God’s nearness and love during this very lonely time
    • Pray for family members who will be isolated from their loved ones behind bars
    • Pray that more churches would respond to the call to remember those in prison by volunteering with Crossroads and other correspondence prison ministries
    • Pray for safety of prison medical staff on the frontlines of this pandemic

During this time, let us remember to live out our call to, “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison.” (Hebrews 13:3)

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