Parkside partners with Crossroads Prison Ministries in providing Bible lessons and encouragement to those incarcerated. Volunteers grade papers and write letters to inmates anonymously. To learn more, email Dave.
by Elizabeth DeGroot, Crossroads Intern
In describing the worst moments of his life, Brian, a Crossroads student in Louisiana, mentions drugs and darkness. In describing the best moments of his life, Brian mentions Jesus. He shared with Crossroads, “God saved me from drug abuse, death and hell. . . . I live with Jesus, and He gives me life.”
Brian’s battle with substance abuse began in the aftermath of his parents’ messy divorce. He wrote that, after his parents split, “I stayed with my dad, and I watched him struggle and hurt. It brought a lot of pain and sorrow on me.” To ease the pain, Brian, a young teenager at the time, turned to drugs and alcohol.
At first, Brian was “just experimenting and having fun.” But soon, things spiraled out of control. Brian dropped out of high school, tried and failed to work with his father at a roofing company and strained all his close relationships. He wrote, “I couldn’t pick myself up. The only time I felt good was when I was high, extremely high. So, I used drugs to cover up a broken heart and pain. But I was just making things worse for myself.”
by Amy Cain
Harry had been serving time in prison for twelve years, guilt and regret weighing heavily on his heart. Having taken another man’s life, he knew he still had years to spend in that cell. He didn’t know how to move forward with his life, and he was losing hope that he ever could.
One day, he received a letter that changed everything.
“On April 2, 2014, I received a letter from my victim’s daughter,” Harry remembered. “She forgave me for taking her father’s life twelve years prior. She also sent me a Bible and invited me to build a meaningful relationship with the Lord. That turned my entire life around.”
Harry was overwhelmed by this woman’s act of forgiveness and grace. He knew it must have come from God.
“[God] had touched her heart to forgive me, and I felt the weight lift from my shoulders,” he said. “It was then I chose to live for Him and die to self.”
by | Feb 21, 2022
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” – Matthew 18:12–13
Another mistake, another arrest. Luis found himself in jail—again. He was sick of the cycle, but he didn’t know how to break it.
He had grown up in a Catholic family that attended mass every week, but he found religion boring. It didn’t take long for him to choose his own path. “I lost myself at a young age,” Luis remembered. “By twelve, I was using drugs and drinking. My days were spent on the streets. I thought life was great; I did what I wanted when I wanted.”
by | Dec 27, 2021
Timothy spent his high school summers volunteering on mission trips with a local church. But Timothy wasn’t a Christian—he was a professed atheist.
“Although the youth center [that I had joined] was separate from the church, they often invited us to events and missions,” Timothy remembered. “I began building houses in Mexico for this church but refused to be part of studies or talks about Jesus. The church members respected my stance about God; therefore, I wasn’t required to participate in studies or discussions.”
When he was eighteen, the volunteers were forced to relocate from their usual place of service because of cartel activity. Their new mission was to build a school for a recently established church in Mexico.
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. Continue Reading >
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.” Continue Reading >
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. Continue Reading >
You’re worthless. You’re stupid. You’ll always be a failure.
These were the words Terry heard over and over as he grew up. Longing for love from his father, he instead received emotional and physical abuse.
“I became angry and started hating my father, wondering why the person I call ‘daddy,’ the person who is supposed to love me and teach me right from wrong, was always hurting me and my mom,” Terry said.
Although he resolved never to become like his father, he found himself slipping into similar tendencies. “I would mistreat my friends and anyone else who was around me, including my teachers,” he recalled. “I would do whatever I wanted to do, and I wasn’t going to answer to anyone.”
Terry decided not to answer to the law, either. In his twenties, he began to let “the devil’s cheap thrills”—including cocaine and prostitutes—lead him down a destructive path. His mother visited him during his first stint in the county jail. He could barely meet her teary gaze as he promised her that he’d get clean.
After his release, however, he fell back into his old ways. “I got to a point in my life that I didn’t care about anything other than drugs and women,” Terry said. “I began using more and more—not only to escape my problems but to escape myself as I came to realize the self I had created. I was completely out of control.”
After surviving an intentional overdose, Terry had no choice but to face his girlfriend, who had discovered he’d been cheating on her. Fed up with a lifetime of poor decisions, he let his frustration and anger take control.
He soon found himself in a cold, dark prison cell, facing twenty years for assault. “In that small isolation cell, it dawned on me just how messed up my life had become,” he said. “There was a wrenching in my chest—an inner longing for God and a better way of life. I kneeled down on that cold floor and cried out, ‘God, I can’t do this on my own. I need You! Please take the pain, bitterness and loneliness away!’” Instantly, Terry received an answer to his desperate prayer. He felt the Holy Spirit flood his heart with peace and love.
The coronavirus has interrupted the lives of many people and many organizations, including Crossroads Prison Ministries. President & CEO Lisa Blystra offers an update on the ministry and a word of encouragement for these turbulent times.