One of the hardest things about being in prison is the loneliness and sense of being cut off from the world. But it’s even worse during a pandemic lockdown.
Because of COVID-19, visitors to prisons are restricted; Crossroads Prison Ministries was even worried that the mail system would be shut down. Crossroads connects men and women in prison with Christian mentors through mail-in Bible studies.
However, Brenda McGowan, Crossroads’ Vice President of Programming says, “Thank God we are still able to deliver the Bible studies because we rely on the US Postal Service with our program model being mail correspondence. What we’ve experienced is that there has not been a decrease in our programming on the U.S. side.”
Also, McGowan says, “We have reinvented and responded to the distancing by engaging our mentors virtually through video conference call platforms. Over the last…six or seven weeks, we’ve had a number of weekly virtual community gatherings and have engaged over 1,000 mentors in conversations, discussions, [and] lots of prayer.”
Crossroads has still been affected by the pandemic in other ways. At their main office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Crossroads closed their office to staff and approximately 140 volunteers. Those serving with the prison ministry now do what they can from home.
Then there are the chaplains that Crossroads works with across the U.S. Their chaplains serve as religious programming managers in prisons and normally have an army of volunteers to help deliver programming to prisoners, manage classes, and build relationships.
Unfortunately, McGowan says, “They’ve lost those volunteers. They are the only persons who the inmates have access to deliver religious programming. So we spend a lot of time praying for our chaplains [and] for our corrections officers.”
In the early stages of the pandemic when its effects were still just showing up, Crossroads took preemptive steps to make sure they didn’t leave their students in the dark.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News,
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for Crossroads’ students in prison to sense God’s love at this time and share His love with others.
- Pray for the staff and volunteers at Crossroads to be spiritually encouraged.