More than twenty years ago, Gerry became a Crossroads mentor after attending a presentation at his church. In a recent phone call, Gerry expressed his deep gratitude to the Lord for introducing him to Crossroads and allowing him to be part of its transformative work.
“The thousand or so letters I’ve written over the last twenty years have allowed me to visit with students at pretty near every stage of their Christian walks,” he shared.
During our conversation, Gerry shared some valuable lessons he has learned while walking alongside people in prison and the deep appreciation he has gained for the unique challenges they face.
As Gerry walks alongside his students, he focuses on providing support, guidance, and a listening ear. In return, he often finds himself encouraged. One of his Tier 2 students, Paul, is a seventy-five-year-old man with no release date. Despite facing some literacy issues, Paul is deeply committed to his faith, engaging in daily prayer, Bible reading, and devotions. Gerry finds it inspiring to work with students like Paul who are fully devoted to their faith and eager to be faithful disciples.
Another of Gerry’s students, John, took the initiative to lead church services at his facility in the absence of outside volunteers. He applied the knowledge he gained from his Crossroads lessons and Gerry’s guidance to lead discipleship classes at his facility.
Among the multitude of challenges his students face, Gerry observed that family concerns weigh heavily on their minds. Many of his students are estranged from their loved ones or have strained relationships, often picturing their children younger than they are.
One student, Agustin, experienced the loss of his mother and brother prior to his incarceration and was alienated from the rest of his family. After being placed in a faith-based dorm, Agustin encountered God through his chaplain and others incarcerated alongside him. He holds deep gratitude for the Crossroads program, considering it his newfound family.
For many students, their Crossroads mentors are their only connection to the outside world. In these Christ-centered relationships, they discover the joy of being part of a new kind of family—God’s family (Ephesians 2:19). “People in prison cherish their place in the family of God as few of us on the outside can,” Gerry explained, recognizing the significance of providing support and encouragement to those who have lost contact with their biological families.
Gerry shared that Agustin is now “on fire for God” and desires to serve Him. He emphasized the importance of Crossroads serving as a support system and spiritual family for Agustin and others who are cut off from their families on the outside.
Gerry has found that Crossroads’ materials provide an excellent, straightforward, and comprehensive introduction to Jesus for those seeking to learn more about the Christian faith. He remarked, “Most people who haven’t been introduced to the Lord Jesus find Him to be a self-help-book kind of Jesus. This may be their first experience inside, and they are grasping for anything to hold on to.”
Through Crossroads, Gerry can share his faith and the importance of establishing a genuine relationship with Christ. As a cancer survivor, Gerry often draws parallels between the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis and the experience of being incarcerated for the first time. In both cases, he shared, “You are looking for a rock in the choppy seas to hold on to. And it is the same rock, Jesus Christ. . . . As a new cancer patient, people talk in a different language than you are used to. Similar to how people pick up the Bible for the first time. Before I was saved, I probably read Genesis twelve times, but I put it down because I didn’t understand what I was reading. I had to have someone take me through an organized Bible study.”
Crossroads has enabled Gerry to provide the same guidance to thousands of people behind bars while offering a safe space for his students to find encouragement and seek answers to their questions.
Are you looking for an opportunity to share and deepen your faith? Consider signing up as a Crossroads mentor and providing life-giving support and encouragement to those behind bars discovering their place in God’s family.
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