In September, the CBI board of directors unanimously selected Blystra to lead the ministry. Blystra, of Holland, brings twelve years of church and faith-based nonprofit leadership to CBI.
She most recently served as a vice president at Prison Fellowship Ministries, serving as the director of church engagement and reentry. During her tenure at Prison Fellowship, she was instrumental in expanding the network of churches involved in prison ministry across the nation.
Prior to that, she served as pastor of global and community partnerships at Ridge Point Community Church in Holland where she expanded 70×7 Life Recovery Ministries, a prisoner reentry program that connects Christian mentors to men and women who are coming home to West Michigan. This faith-based model has received state recognition for significantly reducing recidivism.
Blystra has a passion for the local church and believes it has the potential to make a huge impact in the lives of people in prison.
“My past experiences have opened my eyes to the amazing, untapped, restorative capacity of the local church to bring hope and healing to the broken things of this world,” she said. “Faith-based nonprofits play a unique role in unleashing the power of the church, through church-centric programs.”
The CBI board of directors is confident that Blystra will build on the ministry’s solid foundation. “The board is confident that Lisa has the passion and experience as well as the leadership and collaborative skills to help us become even more effective at accomplishing our mission of equipping the church to encourage incarcerated Christians around the world,” said board member Dan Rinzema, who served as interim director during the selection process.
CBI is a nonprofit prison ministry with 30,000 students studying through satellite campuses on six continents. The program is provided at no cost to prisoners and their families.