ErinZCrossroad Bible Institute has a team of more than 5,500 volunteer Instructors who review prisoners’ Bible lessons and write them letters of encouragement. Meet one of our faithful volunteers, Erin, and find out why she does prison ministry.

Name: Erin

Age: 28

Occupation: Seminarian

What do you do in your spare time? I like to garden, even though I’m a very poor gardener! When I’m not gardening, I like to read and hang out with my two cats—I sometimes joke that I’m very “indoorsy.” My husband and I love exploring new places together, whether it’s a town right down the road or another country.

Why did you start volunteering with Crossroad? The most important thing to me is that there is a biblical imperative for us to care for those in prison (Matt. 25:36). But also, there is so much pain and grief and longing in prisons, and I’m very moved by that. I don’t have incredible people skills, I’m not outgoing, I’m not an amazing Christian, but I wanted to make sure that people in prison have someone to tell them that they matter, even if it’s just me.

What do you like best about being an Instructor? My favorite part is when students who weren’t raised in the church give really unexpected answers. If you were raised in the church like I was, you tend to assume you know all the “right” answers, and frankly, that can get a bit stale. Some of my students see things from a completely new perspective, and they are able to give insights or make connections that really surprise me. One student in particular asks really interesting questions and even disagrees with the lessons sometimes. I love encouraging my students to develop the gifts that only they have, whether that’s asking questions or seeing things in a different light or understanding others’ pain in a unique way.

Are there any moments with your students that have stood out? During my first year at seminary, I was learning Greek and Hebrew simultaneously. I love learning languages, but there are times when it seems like the verb paradigms will never end. Right around exam time, I got a lesson from one of my Tier 2 students. One of the questions asked about some biblical passages regarding slaves obeying their masters, and I think the point was supposed to be that we should respect our authorities. But in response to the question “How does this teaching make a difference in your life?” my student, who didn’t know that I was studying Greek, wrote, “Σγο ειμι δουλος Ιησου Χριστου” with a translation beneath: “I am a slave of Jesus Christ.” Not only was this an unexpected—and delightful—interpretive move on his part, but the fact that we had an extra connection through our study of Greek brought some grace to the rest of my semester. He was teaching himself Greek, so his hunger to better understand the Scriptures was really humbling. I think a lot of Instructors have moments like this, moments of connection that seem to have been orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.

What is your favorite Scripture passage? I love 1 Kings 8:27, from Solomon’s temple dedication prayer: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” I love this verse because Solomon’s question—will God really dwell on earth?—is answered in part by God’s presence among His people in the temple. But it was answered again when Christ came to dwell on earth, and it was answered more fully yet at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us at all times and in all places. And it will be answered in full when God dwells together with His people in the new heavens and new earth. To me, Solomon’s question ties all of Scripture together and tells us that God is absolutely tireless in His purpose—to be reconciled to His beloved people.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering with Crossroad? It’s nice to know without a doubt that what you’re doing with CBI is making a difference. Sometimes when you’re a small piece of a much bigger project, you just have to take it on faith that you are making a difference. But with Crossroad, I know that every hour I spend with the students makes a huge difference in their lives—I know because they tell me. One of my students, Andrew, wrote to me, “It can be a hard, lonely life in jail or prison. It’s nice to know some people care enough to treat us as people, not like animals or numbers.”

Interested in becoming a CBI Instructor? Find out more here.