Prison chaplains and other advocates fought many years to add educational opportunities for inmates. What better way to avoid returning to a life of crime than to learn a skill that offers an alternative to survive? Eventually, those education programs, such as that offered by the International Christian College and Seminary ( http://www.iccscampus.org/) offered Bible study and other theological degrees to prisoners.
You can find many a true story about how an inmate changed after starting a Bible study course. There is a woman North Carolina whose life of abuse and deception landed her in jail. While incarcerated, she completed two associates degrees and a bachelor’s degree in Bible studies. Today, she leads a post-incarceration support program, preaches in several jails, around the time spent on missions and worship at her own church.
There is the career drug addict and dealer in New Jersey who decided Bible study would be an “easy” way to get out of his cell. Today, he is ordained and acts as an advocate and chaplain at several homeless shelters and rehab facilities.
There are hundreds of similar stories these programs can point to as inspiration for their efforts. Perhaps the most incredible true story about how an inmate changed his life after starting a Bible study course comes from Central America.
Avelino was serving a life sentence for murdering two people with a machete. He saw no hope in his life and quickly took to the prison survival system of dealing drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. He was quick to punish anyone he thought hurt his business with physical violence.
Another prisoner spent his days preaching the gospel from a soapbox in the courtyard. Avelino hated hearing his voice and one day set out to fix the situation. He walked toward the preacher with a shiv in his hand, determined to slice his throat as a warning to others not to take up the preaching business.
As he approached the man, the two made eye contact. Avelino froze in his tracks. Then he fell to his knees sobbing uncontrollably. The preaching inmate gave Avelino his Bible.
A local pastor visited the jail the next day. He says he was told by God to teach the Bible to anyone at the jail who would listen. Avelino was the first to show up. The prison developed regular Bible studies and church services on Sundays. Years later, when the pastor died, Avelino took over. He handled the services, ministered to prisoners in distress, protected many who were at risk in the prison, and even took the time to counsel family members of the inmates.
Ten years after receiving his life sentence, Avelino was released from jail by a warden who found Christ through his preaching. Today, he leads a church in the capital city. On top of that, he has inspired other prisoners to follow in his footsteps. Today his City of Refuge Church has six locations, each lead by a former prisoner.
Your life can become a true story about how an inmate changed his life after Bible study. Ask your chaplain for a Bible if you don’t have one and then join a Bible study or pastoral course like those of ICCS (http://www.iccscampus.org/). God has great plans for your life wherever you are.