(Photo courtesy of CBI)
International (MNN) ― Crossroad Bible Institute has developed a mail-in Bible study program for the children of prisoners. Ten Bible study lessons complement "Manga Messiah," a children's Bible in the popular graphic novel style.
"We developed 10 Bible study lessons that correspond with the "Manga Messiah" Bible," said David Schuringa, president of CBI. "Those Bible study lessons have puzzles, crossword puzzles, dot-to-dots, and fill-in-the blanks. And they're beautifully illustrated, so the kids love it. And we have some incentives built into the program."
Schuringa said the program is "a long-time dream come true" for CBI, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Their focus has been on ministry to prisoners, but they always knew that children of inmates also need the truth of the Gospel.
"The longer that I've been here, the more have I seen how the problem of crime in this country goes back to the family. Eighty percent of the people in prison didn't have a father at home," Schuringa explained. "And so we've been finding that the breakdown of the family is a critical part of the whole breakdown of the system."
The children of prisoners are far more likely than other children to struggle with a variety of different issues in their lives.
"The children of inmates are five to seven times more likely to get involved in the criminal justice system than their peers," Schuringa said. "They are highly at-risk children for school truancy, for alcohol and drug addiction, and sexual difficulties. These are at-risk kids in our own backyard."
CBI knew that a program for kids had to be different from the programs for adults, and it would need more graphics. Out of the blue, God introduced Schuringa and CBI to "Manga Messiah." CBI is now running "Manga Messiah" as a pilot program. Several hundred kids have received the first lessons.
"I wondered...would these kids actually complete these lessons that we sent to them?" Schuringa said. "A lot of them are on their own in their homes. They don't have parental oversight... Who's going to remind them to do their Bible study lesson?"
Now, completed lessons are pouring back into CBI's office. and the kids are asking for the next lesson.
"They're written at the third grade reading level, but children from 6 to 18 are returning: ‘Pray for my daddy in prison; pray for my mom, she's
all alone. Thanks for telling me about
Jesus.' And it just gives you goose
bumps to see these little kids of prisoners are completing these Bible study lessons
and returning them here," said Schuringa.
"It's just a thrill and I think probably one of the most significant ventures that Crossroad has accomplished in its 25 years of existence," he continued.
Based on feedback from the kids and their instructors, CBI may revise the program before launching it worldwide. Schuringa encouraged Christians to pray for the kids using the program.
"Pray that God's powerful Word would speak through these lessons and would speak through the letters that the instructors are writing them, because they're writing them personal letters and encouraging them in the faith," he said.