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ACTION REPORT N E W S FR O M B I B L E L E AG U E I N T ER N AT I O N A L
NEW PARTNERSHIP HOPES TO REACH MILLIONS OF PRISONERS Bibles and training will be a crucial part
Leonel escapes extremists and finds hope in God’s Word
Isaiah commits to sharing the Good News behind bars
Charles’ life gets new direction through Church Planter Training
ENGAGE E V ERYONE IN GOD’S WOR D
YO U ’ R E B R I N G I N G T H E F R E E D O M O F T H E G O S PE L TO PR I S O N S
Prisoners find freedom in Gospel You’re helping provide God’s Word behind bars “I was in prison, and you came to visit me…” Part of serving the under-resourced Church with Bibles and training to transform lives through God’s Word is caring for the very people society often casts aside. That includes those in prisons around the world. It’s what God calls us to do. But it’s a huge task, and something we certainly can’t do alone. That’s why I want to thank you—and tell you about a new partnership that will allow us to accomplish even more together. Bible League is now partnering with Prison Fellowship International to bring the Good News to prisoners worldwide. We’re grateful to God for this new opportunity. Together, we will reach so many more inmates with the saving Good News of God’s Word. We will see so many more lives transformed! Working together, our goal is to bring the hope of the Gospel to 2 million prisoners in 59 countries by the year 2024. We recently took the first step in this five-year journey when we launched this partnership project in Santiago, Chile. Prison Fellowship will focus on evangelism through its program based on the Gospel of Mark. Bible League’s focus will be on discipling inmates through our Prison Project Philip Bible studies, found in the front of our easy-to-read prison Bibles, which we also provide. I am always incredibly motivated when I hear about people whose lives have been transformed by God’s Word, especially prisoners. I think you will be, too. Their stories remind us of the amazing power of the Holy Spirit to do great things. It’s a wonderful gift God gives us, when we get to see lives change through His Word. When people can read and understand the Good News, it transforms them. I ask you to please join me in prayer for all the people who, through your gifts and petitions to God, will help prisoners experience the redemptive love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you!
Jos Snoep President and CEO
PR A I S E H I M
“‘When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:39-40 NIV PAGE 2
F I N D I N G A N S W E R S I N PR I S O N T H R O U G H PR O J E C T PH I L I P
Murderer becomes Christ follower
Leonel’s past seemed unforgivable, but he found hope in a Colombian prison
The nine bullet scars scattering 31-year-old Leonel’s body are a harsh reminder of how he tried to escape a Colombian paramilitary group. He didn’t think he would survive that day. But he did. And it led him here...to Cárcel La Modelo (La Modelo Prison) of Bogotá. Its notoriously violent reputation would leave anyone sick to their stomach. The overcrowded prison is meant to house about 2,000 prisoners, but the grim reality is that there are nearly 11,000 prisoners right now. Searching for a new way of life Inside these stark walls rimmed with razor wire, you’ll mostly find an explosive mixture of prisoners— left-wing guerrilla group members or, like Leonel, right-wing paramilitary group members. “I am here for
extortion, kidnapping, and murder,” Leonel says bluntly. When he arrived here, Leonel knew he was ready to change his life. But after a lifetime of crime and fear for his life as part of a paramilitary group, Leonel did not know how to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. He explains, “I prayed, ‘God, I want to do good now. If you want me to accept you, send me someone, a pastor. Then, I will accept you.’” The help he needed A few days later, he met Pastor Victor, a former inmate helping to engage prisoners in God’s Word, and Pastor Luiz, a current inmate in his courtyard. These men have helped him to find the answers he needed through Project Philip Bible studies.
“The Freedom Bible I received through Project Philip was beautiful’” he says. “I love the directions to pray and discuss God’s Word. Now, when I feel oppressed, I pray! I am strong in faith because I am in the Word of God daily.” Though Christians here often face discrimination, Leonel doesn’t let that stop him from sharing God’s love.
Thank you! Because of you, prisoners are finding true freedom in Christ. Thank you for your gifts and prayers! God’s Word is making a difference in Leonel’s life, and so are you.
S H A R I N G G O D â€™ S G O O D N E SS W I T H C E L L M AT E S
“I met Christ here”
Isaiah got his first Bible in prison…thanks to you
Isaiah (pictured above) was born under the warm winds and moderate weather of Kenya’s Rift Valley, known for its large-scale tea farming. A member of the Kipsigis tribe, he was raised one of 11 siblings in a region where most of his neighbors were tea farmers or casual laborers. “I came from a very poor community, and we faced many challenges as I grew up,” he explains. “Many families, including my own, had to work very hard in the fields to earn a living. It wasn’t easy.” Isaiah had to stop going to school after fourth grade because his family could not afford the school fees. Poverty led to a life of crime Like many prisoners, poverty played a pivotal role in the choices he made in his life. Although he grew up in a Christian family, Isaiah succumbed to peer pressure when he was a teenager. “I stopped going to church when I was 14,” he says with deep regret. It wasn’t much longer after that that he was lured into a life a
crime. He reveals, “I was incarcerated because I got into a fight with someone who got hurt very badly and died from his injuries.” Now 42 and behind bars, he has been eager to make amends and find ways to change. He leapt at the opportunity
to join the Bible study a fellow inmate invited him to. Isaiah puts it this way, “I was desperate for God and wanted to give my life to Christ. I felt a strong desire for transformation after a fellow inmate invited me to be a part of Continued on page 6 PAGE 5
Isaiah…continued from page 5 Project Philip Bible studies,” he says. “The Bible study booklets were simple, easy to understand, and encouraged discussion. These materials spoke directly to my heart, and they have changed my life to the glory of God!” God’s Word made the difference Isaiah says that although he was a Christian, he never had a Bible of his own before and he was thrilled to learn he would receive one after he completed the lessons. “This is my first time owning a Bible, I had nothing to study God’s Word with before! I am gladly sharing the goodness of Christ with
my cellmates. I will encourage fellow inmates to join this program!” When asked if he regrets ending up in jail, Isaiah stops to reflect thoughtfully. He explains softly, “Yes and no. Prison is not a good place, it can waste one’s life. I would advise anyone to avoid coming to prison. But I met Christ here. I have rekindled my love for Jesus in prison, and I have rededicated myself to Him. In the past, worldly pleasures wore me down and wasted my energy. I am now gladly sharing the goodness of the Lord and will encourage fellow inmates to also join the program.”
Thank you! Thank you for bringing the joy and encouragement of the Gospel to prisoners around the globe. Your gift of Bibles and training is helping prisoners discover the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Freedom in God’s Word
Bible study lessons geared especially to reach prison inmates Bible League International’s Freedom Bibles are designed specifically for prison inmates. Translated into English and Spanish directly from the original languages, these Bibles are easy to read and to understand. They also include 52 Bible study lessons written especially for prisoners. Lessons deal with topics such as controlling your anger, seeking forgiveness from those you hurt, and even dealing with prison noise. The Bible also includes lessons about how to prepare for a job interview and how to be successful on parole. Through our partnership (see page 2), every prisoner who completes Prison Fellowship’s study on the Gospel of
Mark receives a copy of the Freedom Bible at a graduation ceremony. At that time, they are invited to continue to study God’s Word through Bible League’s Prison Project Philip program. Inmates initially study five lessons focused on the Gospel of John. They
then go on to see how God’s Word provides practical advice and help for how to: 1. Become a follower of Jesus. 2. Follow Jesus in prison. 3. Prepare for their release. 4. Follow Jesus when outside of prison.
D I S COV E R I N G A N E W PAT H T H R O U G H C H U R C H PL A N T E R T R A I N I N G
Finding a purpose behind bars
Through your support, Charles is learning how to plant churches Growing up, Charles never had a relationship with Jesus Christ. Though his family was Christian, it was all just a list of dos and don’ts to him. At 18, Charles finally had the freedom he wanted and joined the military, but things didn’t last long. He started drinking, and it became a big problem. Fed up, the military kicked him out. Charles’ life spiraled downward from there. He turned to alcohol and marijuana—then cocaine and crack.
He went to prison for the first time more than 30 years ago when he robbed his boss to buy more crack. Jail didn’t change him. Upon his release, he felt a void in his life—a void he tried to fill with drugs and relationships. “I was very bitter,” he says. “In 2013, I was arrested again.” Getting to know God When he arrived at Winnebago County Jail in Rockford, Illinois, he was in a maximum security cell by himself for six months. While there,
he finally began to have a relationship with God. Charles read the Bible four times cover-to-cover in those months. After release from maximum-security, the now 50-year-old began attending a Project Philip Bible study and soon became a Philip (a Project Philip Bible study leader). For the first time, Charles felt a sense of peace and healing. With a renewed mind and heart, he joined the first-ever Church Planter Training in a jail in the U.S. A new path with Christ Church Planter Training gave Charles a vision for God’s purpose for his life. He explains, “I did not know what I would do before. However, through this ministry God helped me to experience true fellowship. “Before, I did not find friends in church or anywhere, but I have friends in Rockford now,” he says, pointing to the other inmates in his Church Planter Training class. “I know that I am prepared to evangelize on the outside.”
Thank you! You’re helping prisoners like Charles to not only find new life in Christ, but to learn how to share God’s Word and plant churches. Thank you for transforming lives inside and outside of prison walls!
L I F T U P T H E N AT I O N S
Notes of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ERV Please pray for the horrible situation in Hong Kong, China. The protests and violence have been ongoing for months now. May God’s Church shine a light amid fear. Ask the Lord for peace and protection during this time of turmoil and retaliation. In 2020, nearly 900,000 children and youth will engage in God’s Word in nearly 40 countries worldwide. Pray for these young people to know how much their heavenly Father loves them as they study His Word. May they also share the Good News with their parents and friends.
Even after three earthquakes (6.3m and higher) and weeks of aftershocks in the Davao Region of the Philippines, Bible League-trained church planters are still spreading the hope of Christ in this tough time. Some church planters no longer have homes to sleep in or churches to worship in, but they’re finding a way to share the Gospel. Pastora Josie (who’s house was destroyed) is preaching comforting messages to fellow earthquake victims using only a flashlight and car battery to study the Word of God. Praise God for how He is still at work in this hardship.
Around the globe following Christ is dangerous. For many church planters and Philips, life is scary every day. Ask the Lord to guard and strengthen His Church in areas like India, the Middle East, and Bangladesh where it is especially dangerous to follow Jesus.
Pray for wisdom and guidance for those who are working hard on the translation of the easy-to-read Swahili Bible. May God ready the hearts of those who will receive God’s Word in their own language. Thank the Lord that the New Testament is already complete and helping people to understand and believe His Word.
Serving the under-resourced Church with Bibles and training to transform lives worldwide through God’s Word. 1 Bible League Plaza • Crete, IL 60417 866-825-4636 • firstname.lastname@example.org • bibleleague.org