The Prison Ministry provides biblical instruction to prison inmates through a partnership with Crossroads Prison Ministries. Individuals correspond with inmates who complete Bible courses and send in the mail for feedback. Learn more about Crossroads at https://cpministries.org
Become an Instructor
If you are interested in becoming a Crossroads Instructor, complete the volunteer form. You will receive a formal application, which you will complete, along with a recommendation from the Parkside pastoral staff. You'll receive detailed instructional materials to familiarize yourself with the Crossroads program, its goals, and procedures. As an instructor, you always remain anonymous.
Many instructors at Parkside Church have found this is a rewarding way to be involved in sharing the Gospel with seekers and discipling young believers, in a non-threatening and effective way. Once your application has been approved, you'll be able to enter the rotation to review inmates' lessons:
1) Recieve a lesson in the mail from Crossroads.
2) Grade and correct these using the answer sheets you will receive from Crossroads.
3) Write a one-page letter of encouragement to the student.
4) Mail the corrected lesson and letter directly to the student.
4) Report the student's score to Crossroads online, by phone, or mail.
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Charles’ mom was thirteen and his dad was sixteen when he was born. Because Charles was born with bronchial asthma, his parents decided they “had no space in their lives for a baby, especially a very sick baby boy,” he said.
So Charles was raised by his grandma, spending a lot of time in her Pentecostal church.
When he was six, he was taken to the hospital because of his asthma. “The doctor told my grandma I would not live through the night,” he said. She called her pastor in to pray over Charles.
The next morning he woke up to his grandma crying. “I asked her why she was crying. She told me she thought she was going to lose me,” Charles said. The doctors called his survival a miracle.
A year later, he said, his “whole world was changed” as his parents decided they wanted him to live with them. For the next ten years, he endured the abuse of his mom who never once told him that she loved him. At school he faced bullies.
This past fall, John was one of nearly 400,000 people who have caught the coronavirus in prison, and he found his faith tested.
At age seventy, catching COVID-19 in prison was frightening, but John shared with us how he felt God’s presence with Him, comforting and healing him.
“I was flat on my back in pain, weak and another inmate had to help me up to go to the bathroom,” he said. “I realized that I wasn’t alone then either, because it was Jesus who brought those three other inmates to help me get well. Every time I woke up, I would say Jesus’ name and even felt his healing hands on me.”
After fourteen days of battling the virus, John is grateful for his health and God’s provision. “Jesus never left my side,” he said.
We receive dozens of notes and letters from students every week, giving us glimpses into their lives. Some of their stories make us smile and warm our hearts. Others offer a sobering reminder of the darkness of prison life and the brokenness of our world.
As the world has been reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Crossroads team moved their offices to their homes, which was quite a drastic change. But in prisons and jails, the changes were even more dramatic. Visits stopped. Programs stopped. Most prison facilities were placed on lockdown, and some people were locked in a lonely cell for twenty-three hours a day.
Still, students continued to send us letters. Some have shared how this time of isolation has worn on their souls. Some have expressed hope and gratitude. Amid all the uncertainty, many students have expressed deep faith and shown incredible endurance. We’ve shared these notes with our staff, and we want to share a few with you. You can read scans of these actual letters from students in our Letters from Lockdown publication. DOWNLOAD HERE
As you read these letters—some encouraging, some heartbreaking—we encourage you to lean into any tension you might feel. Praise God for the way He is moving in prisons all over the world, but don’t give up on praying fervently for the people represented by these words. Don’t stop praying for an end to mass incarceration in our nation.