An unprecedented number of inmates are learning Bible truths through Global University's discipleship courses.
Since 2007, the number of incarcerated students enrolled in the correspondence courses has skyrocketed from 25 to 2,100. In the same time period, the number of volunteers involved in the effort has increased from a single individual to 32.
"We have experienced exponential growth, mostly by one inmate telling another," says Bob Durham, national director of Prison Ministries for Global University. "Based on what we've seen so far, we're looking at potentially doubling our numbers over the next 18 months."
The series of 37 courses, which takes two to three years to complete, provides basic Bible education and discipleship. Inmates in hundreds of jails and prisons throughout the United States are enrolled, with materials provided at no charge. Enrolled inmates who are released also may continue the free courses. Light for the Lost helps fund the distribution of these resources.
The program does not provide credit toward ministerial credentials, though some graduates go on to pursue such education.
Christian discipleship is far more effective than secular training programs at helping former inmates transition to a crime-free life, Durham says.
"Unless it changes the moral values of the inmate, they'll just go back smarter and more violent or hopeless criminals," Durham says.
"Jesus is the only answer. Presenting Christ to the incarcerated, through the systematic study of the Word, provides them with the tools to change their lives."
Global University also works to match incarcerated students with local churches prior to their release.
"We do everything we can to challenge them to have a real-life change, not just a momentary experience," Durham says.