An evangelism course produced by an Anglican church in London has proved a hit with prisoners, as more than 20,000 inmates completed the course over the past 12 months.
The Prisoners Journey is based on Christianity Explored – an evangelism course produced by the Revd Rico Tice, associate minister for evangelism at All Souls’, Langham Place and writer Barry Cooper. Since being launched by All Souls in 2002, Christianity Explored has been translated into 20 languages and over 5,000 courses a year are run in more than 80 countries.
Last January, Christianity Explored Ministries (CEM) linked up with Prison Fellowship International (PFI) to develop the Prisoners Journey, a version of the course for use in prisons. Over the past 12 months it has been used in 103 prisons in 11 countries, including Nigeria, Australia, Singapore, Spain and Brazil.
“This means that 20,000 inmates were reached with the Gospel in 2015, across five continents,” CEM said. “Nine more countries will join the programme in 2016: Portugal, Honduras, Malta, Albania, Kenya, Zambia, Swaziland, Togo and Burkina Faso.
“Testimonies from those prisoners who have completed the course are eloquent and powerful. One example is Daniel, from South Africa, who said: ‘a lot of people who are not believers are taking part in it, especially in my cell. Even inmates that I used to invite to church and not accepting my invitation, joined this program.’”
PFI was founded in 1979 and has a network of 45,000 volunteers carrying out prison ministry with two million inmates in 3,700 prisons in over 120 countries. There are an estimated 10 million inmates in 22,000 jails across the world. Through the Prisoners Journey, PFI hope to read one million prisoners with the Gospel by 2020.
“The Promotion phase of the Prisoners Journey encourages participants to embark on a journey with Jesus Christ, emphasising that he, too, experienced much of what they feel now, including fear, loneliness, alienation and abandonment,” a spokesman for CEM said.
“Prisoners wanting to learn more are invited to join the second phase of the program, the Course, where they go through the Christianity Explored materials in a group setting. This second phase is an eight- week course which simply lets the Gospel of Mark tell the Gospel of Jesus. It focuses on who Christ is (his identity), what he came to do (his mission) and our response to him (his call).
“The final phase, Discipleship, seeks to engage prisoners with a real, personal relationship with Christ within the context of the Church.”
The chief executive of CEM, Ian Roberts, said: “We’ve been thrilled how the Prisons Edition of Christianity Explored has already been embraced by chaplains and volunteers in the United Kingdom and beyond. We are even more delighted that our partnership with PFI is bearing fruit in a similar way.
“We trust the enthusiasm with which the Prisoner’s Journey has been received will multiply further in 2016 and will lead to more prisoners all over the world exploring Mark’s Gospel and finding true freedom and salvation in Jesus Christ.”
Christianity Explored is published by the Good Book Company.