Hispanics compose almost 35 percent of the United States’ prison population, making them the second-largest minority group behind bars. Of the total number of Hispanics in prison, over half have been detained for immigration violations.
Since 2002, Crossroad Bible Institute has provided the Tier 1 courses Grandes Verdades de la Biblia and Resumen de la Biblia in Spanish in order to meet the increasing need for a Bible study program in that language.
Volunteer Spanish-speaking Instructors from churches across the country correct lessons and write letters of encouragement in the heart language of Hispanic students, many of whom do not speak English. Since many students do not have contact with their families in their countries of origin, the Instructors meet a vital need for communication and support.
Many of CBI’s Hispanic students share that it was only through going to prison that they came to know Jesus Christ. Their testimonies are especially inspiring because of the difficulty of their circumstances. Cut off from family, friends and resources, isolated and unable to speak the language, many Hispanic students find themselves detained in a foreign country awaiting a trial that will decide whether they will be deported, sent to prison or released.
These students go through difficult, painful experiences, yet they come out on the other side rejoicing and praising the God who is able to turn a bad situation into something good. They see God’s hand working out a plan to bring them to the knowledge of salvation in Christ, and in some cases detainment or imprisonment in a US prison is the means God uses to do that.
Testimonies from Hispanic students bear witness to a God whose strength works in weakness, who works His good will even in bad circumstances, who shows mercy and grace even to the worst of sinners. Even in prison, these students rejoice and praise God, realizing that God’s ultimate plan for their lives is good and that it was in prison that they came to know Christ.
A CBI student named Victor, who is currently incarcerated in Eden, Texas, shared one of many such testimonies. He wrote, “I give thanks to my Lord Jesus Christ for the blessing of putting CBI in my path, because even though I am here in prison, it was here that I found salvation through my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Many Hispanic students express a desire for their families to come to know Christ. One of the things that sets CBI’s program apart is that it provides Bible study courses not only to prisoners but also to their families.
Since half of Hispanics imprisoned in the US are detained due to immigration violations, reaching out to Hispanic prisoners’ families involves reaching across borders and sending lessons all over Latin America—to Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina and beyond.
Students often directly request that CBI send lessons to family members in their countries of origin. Other times, they will send their own lessons and letters back home to their families.
All of this creates a ripple effect where, by reaching Hispanics in the United States, CBI is also able to reach Hispanics in Central and South America. Prisoners come to know Christ through CBI’s Bible studies, they spread the Word to their families and, in turn, their families spread the Word in their communities. In this way, CBI’s Spanish prison ministry is changing lives both inside and out, both in the US and abroad.