United Kingdom (MNN) ― Europe may seem like a hard nut to crack when it comes to the Gospel, but the establishment of a new prison ministry distribution center has made it clear that many Europeans are searching for more.
Prison outreach Crossroad Bible Institute recently opened their first distribution center in Europe in the United Kingdom. The ministry now has a distribution hub on every livable continent.
In August, fear spread for Christians across the West when hate laws came into effect in the U.K. that could potentially target believers. Since then, no blaring persecution has occurred, but it's probably safe to say that the country is not much more interested in Christianity now than it was then.
With this in mind, could a prison ministry based in the truth of Jesus Christ really be welcome in the U.K.? You might be surprised by the answer.
"We think of Europe as a post-Christian sort of environment, and even somewhat hostile to traditional Christian values. But, you know, a funny thing happens when people get desperate," laughs Dr. David Schuringa, president of CBI. "The fact is that the prison officials there--and even the society--are at their whit's end because the recidivism rates are so incredibly high."
In other words, prison officials are not just allowing the center--they're welcoming it.
"The prison officials are saying that they see Christian organizations as holding the hope in this field," says Schuringa. "They're beginning to realize that without a different foundation upon which to build your life and make decisions, you are destined for failure."
The welcoming nature of the officials has much to do with lowering the rate of prisoners reentering the prison system after being released. Regardless of the reasons, the freedom to minister is an open door to reach prisoners and officials alike with the Gospel. Lives will surely be changed.
On an even larger scale, though, Schuringa says that this ministry could be exactly what the U.K. needs to revive the struggling church.
"Our hope is that...as church members in the U.K. get involved in prison ministry, that that will bring revival to those churches.
"I always tell people that our mission is to change prisoners, but our secret mission is to change the church," laughs Schuringa. "And history has shown again and again over the last couple thousand years that when church members get involved in prison ministry, that's always connected with revival."
Prison ministry has existed in the U.K. before now, but with a distribution center in place, believers will be able to get directly involved as instructors. Christians can use the CBI program to bring Bible lessons to inmates and can then help disciple them as they correct their lessons. The commitment is only about an hour and a half per week, and the rewards could be eternal--for the prisoners, the instructor and the entire church.
Right now the greatest need is for instructors. If you live in the U.K. and could give an hour and a half of your week--or even just every other week--for this ministry, join in God's work. Get a group of people from your church together and see what God does. Click here to get in touch with Matthew Savage, Director of the U.K. center.
Pray for this new center. Pray that the Lord would indeed use it as the spark that will light a fire in the church in the United Kingdom.
You can also get involved directly with CBI's ministry. (U.S. residents: there is a high need for Spanish-speaking instructors right now.) Click here to get involved.