“Thanks, but I can’t be reading that in here.”
Looking around the room inquisitively, I asked him, “Where?”
“This is a prison. If these guys see me reading a Bible, they’ll kill me! Or… at least they’ll harass me because they think I’m weak.”
His fear seemed genuine, if not a bit exaggerated. He was new. It was unusual that a new prisoner would attend our group. It usually took some time for them to become aware of it and do the paperwork required for permission. But this inmate was a church guy. He was on his worship team and actually visited this very same facility each Christmas as part of a musical celebration. At some point, I would have to ask him about his motives on that if he was so sure these men were so anti-Bible.
So, I made a deal with him. I would take the Bible home with me. Next month, I would offer it back to him, but he could only have it if he guessed how many Bibles were in circulation around that facility. Meanwhile, the other participants were filtering out, Bibles in hand. One made it a point to tell the new guy he could borrow his Bible if he needed it later.
Of course, I had no idea how many Bibles were in that prison, but I guessed about a third of the population had one. That was about how many men had declared themselves Christian when asked. There were just as many Korans. At least one man wore a yarmulke. No one seemed to bother anyone else about their faith or reading choices.
Bibles are permitted in every correctional facility in the United States. You might be limited to one as most facilities limit the number of outside elements in a cell. But you can definitely have at least one Bible.
For all of prison’s horrors and difficulties, it does offer some time to read and reflect on the Word of God. Prison-based Christian communities are very common, as are newcomers to the faith.
But the Bible can be difficult to follow, especially if you have no formal religious background. Even newer versions translated into modern English offer conflict and confusion in sections. As with learning anything, formal discussions and lessons can greatly enhance not just your comprehension, but also your appreciation of Jesus’ life and words.
Schools like International Christian College and Seminary (ICCS) offer online and didactic courses for inmates. You can study the Bible, Christianity, or Theology as a whole to help you understand how the inmates with Korans or yarmulkes see things. Most importantly, formal classes and discussions will help you understand what you believe more clearly.
Few things are respected in prisons the way inmates’ religious practices are. Take advantage of that and find out how Jesus came to the world to save you, to forgive you, and to bring you to heaven after your earthly purpose is fulfilled. Click the link above and take advantage of a sample course to see if online Bible classes can work for you.