Throughout The Salvation Army’s history, reaching out and ministering to those who are incarcerated has always been important. Although it often is challenging to gain clearance to enter some of these institutions, The Salvation Army has found a way to make Bible studies available to every inmate in the Western United States through correspondence courses via mail.
Thousands of lives have been touched and changed by this sharing of the Gospel made available by mail. The impact is evident in the personal and heartfelt handwritten letters returned, thanking The Salvation Army for its work.
Currently, more than 2,000 people are enrolled in the Extension Studies program around the Western Territory.
Below is a transcript of the video, edited for readability.
Inmate 1: Dear Salvation Army, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for sending me hope in a dark, lonely place, where it’s always cold.
Woman: It’s wonderful when those that are incarcerated receive something by mail. They’re eager to open that correspondence and I think that their hearts become cheerful.
We send a correspondence Bible study directly to the student. There’s men and women waiting to hear the good news of a God that is loving and kind and merciful and forgiving.
Inmate 2: The Salvation Army has given me the chance to learn about my Creator, and for this I’m very much grateful.
Man: People incarcerated don’t really have many opportunities to seek, you know, Bible studies or information or knowledge like this, so our work that we do through correspondence and mailing, I believe, it’s very important to be able to provide an outreach.
Although it may seem just like packing a letter or packing a book or two, at the end of its journey it reaches this individual who is searching for answers, for knowledge, for peace or faith.
Woman: In every piece of mail there’s an opportunity for them to understand more about the Word of God and what God wants for them in their life. We read so many letters and testimonies, and it’s just touching.
Inmate 3: Dear Salvation Army, I just want to say thank you very much for providing me with the Bible studies. It gives me the peace I didn’t have just a while back.
Inmate 4: Dear Salvation Army, I want to thank you for the Bible courses that you’ve shared with me. My heart rejoices every time I receive a package from you.
Inmate 5: I just wanted to send a thank you. My relationship with the Lord grows stronger as I do the studies.
Woman: We have six courses that have 12 lessons each, but then we have about 40 other Bible studies available for them in English and Spanish. It’s something meaningful about having a book in front of them where they can study and then answer the questions and then go back and and reflect on on that Bible study. Many of the questions are “how do you identify with this character” or “is there something in your life that you want to bring to the Lord?”
We actually have some students that have been in our correspondence Bible study for several years, and then we have the new ones that are just beginning, but it’s awesome when we see in our program that a student has been faithfully studying for seven, eight years.
Inmate 6: Dearest Salvation Army, you all have not let me down since 2016.
Man: Sometimes we’ll get a lesson back from an inmate, and inserted will be you know two or three letters from other people you know, hey sign me up for the studies.
Woman: It’s kind of difficult to hide that excitement when something clicks and it’s like, ‘I’m a new person in Christ.’ So they start sharing with other inmates and they start sharing their experience with the Lord, the peace that comes from walking with him, thinking differently, and they start sharing with one another and encouraging one another about coming to Christ.
Inmate 7: Please pray that I continue to be strong in sharing a positive message with my jail dormmates. Also that I continue writing positive letters to my friends and family.
Inmate 8: After 11 years of study, I am sharing my faith without fear. Sharing about the Lord with the men on the yard.
Inmate 9: I can’t stress enough how good it feels to have someone remember you.
Woman: This ministry is important because we are trying to reach people that otherwise will not hear the Word of God. They’re in a dark place, they need a little bit of light for them to be able to see that there’s forgiveness and there’s such acceptance in the eyes of Jesus.
Man: Jesus is available for everybody, no matter what you’ve done, who you are, where you come from, and so I believe sharing Jesus with incarcerated individuals is important because they can also find his love and his peace even though they’re in their situation.
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