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Lives changing in a San Antonio prison

Richard Story

Many ask what can be done about the problem our society has with crime. Our nation’s prisons are filled to capacity, with more and more prisons being built each year. Statistics from the Bureau of Justice say that 700,000 inmates will be released from America’s prisons this year. And it is believed that 67 percent of them will commit another crime within three years of being released. Is there anything that we can do to help alleviate this problem?

This is a story of how our volunteers try to make a difference in one of these local prisons. They are not parole officers or attorneys, and are probably not the kind of counselors you might normally think of. In fact, they may well be the first people you’ve ever met who are on their way to jail, and trying to get there as fast as they can. They are not even being paid for it, but this is their passion - to connect with inmates whom they have never met before.

The inmates have dreams, they have hurts, and they all have families. They’re real people who have made some very wrong decisions. Our volunteers are talking to them heart–to-heart, offering Bible studies, words of encouragement, and an array of Christian reading materials.

Crime is a moral decision, and if you can impact an inmates’ life and give him moral and Christian principles that he can live by, it dramatically impacts his life – and in turn – his family and society. We don’t expect a program like ours will impact every inmate in a way we intend. It is enough if just one person is lead down a better road. It is worth the effort and helping to solve this problem.

We've had an ongoing ministry a San Antonio prison for eight years. And in those eight years we’ve been able to impact thousands of lives. We visit the prisoners in their dorms weekly and also hold weekly Bible studies which are open to the entire prison. Many of the men take a copy of each class, as well as tracts and Activated booklets, etc., back to all parts of the prison and share them with the many other prisoners who aren’t authorized to attend. And as far as our visits to the dorms, the Chaplain recently commented that the dorms we visit are the most receptive to spiritual input in the entire prison. On a regular basis there are over 150 men reading the Activated magazines we bring to them.

This Christmas we were able to distribute over 300 inspirational and spiritually feeding books donated by Activated Ministries to these men. Here are some accounts of the effect that the Word and theseclasses have had on their lives:

From Paul: “I have been coming tothese classes for 14 months now and I really enjoy them and have been blessed. Before coming to prison, I had no idea of how Jesus was working in my life.These classes and all the Word have not only taught us who come to these classes, but we take them and the books back to our dorms and they benefit alot of people there as well. Besides the other Christian brethren, Muslims also want to read all these classes and Activated booklets. They teach us how to share God’s love with others and how to lead them in a simple way to salvation in Jesus Christ. The volunteers here are good examples of godly men and have put thoughts of being a missionary in my heart. I pray that God guides me and if He wants me to be a missionary, I will now have a head start. Thank you again and God bless you!”

From Xavier: “I have received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and coming to this class has helped me to learn more about Jesus. From the classes and the Activated books I receive, it just seems to me that Jesus is talking to me through them. This is why I come to every class each week, so I can get fed more from the Word. I thank God for sending these volunteers and all this Word.”

From Andrew: “My future is very different for me now because I have found through the Word that God is all powerful and an ever present power. I am now more confident in the Word of God and my salvation. Thank you for these men and all the Word. Please keep it coming. We need all of this and more. God bless you!”

From Shawn: “Since I came to the Lord and started attending these classes, I have been steadily learning and growing and allowing Jesus to work through me. All the Word and lessons I’ve received have truly helped break things down in a way that I can understand and have been very helpful in bringing me to the place where I am now in my spiritual growth. I am very grateful and extremely thankful.”

From Aurelio: “I want to thank you for all the help you’ve given to me while I was here. I’ve been in your class for the two years that I’ve been here and it has changed my life. I now understand so much about God and what it means to be saved. I’m a changed man and you were instrumental in all that the Lord did in my life.”

From Cary: “Thank you for these great classes you give to us each week. It’s so refreshing to listen to God’s Word for two hours. And thank you for the books, they truly bless and minister to me. The Lord is opening a door for me when I get out ‘ministry wise’ and all that you have given me while I was here has prepared me for all that’s ahead. God bless you!”

From Ahn: "I want to thank you again for being my guidance, my friend. Thank you for teaching me the Word of God and Jesus as my Savior. I have talked to a lot of missionaries and preachers, but no one has ever touched me more than you have. You have not only taught me God’s Word, but you also had concern about my personal life and my family."