Four decades ago, Doris promised the Lord that she would do anything He asked of her. Two weeks later, after learning about Crossroads from a woman at her church, she became a mentor.

In the early days, she recalled, “There were no answer keys; we worked through the lessons and learned along with the students.”

Doris found the experience deeply fulfilling because she grew in her faith alongside her students. She knew that her support and encouragement were making a difference.

“I found myself writing long letters, and I still do,” Doris said. “I just enjoy sharing the gift of the Lord with other people and giving them an opportunity to hear the Word and to help them. Through this ministry, I’ve understood more about what the life of a prisoner looks like, how difficult it is.”

Doris is the longest-serving Crossroads volunteer on record. Doris’s commitment to Crossroads over four decades has not only touched the lives of thousands of men and women in prison over the years but also left a lasting impact on her daughter, Bernice, who first became aware of Crossroads when she was a small child.

“My earliest memory of Crossroads is going with her to the original office on Alpine to pick up lessons for review when we went out to lunch with my grandparents who lived nearby,” Bernice said.

Later, when Bernice was about sixteen years old, she remembers coming home on summer weekends thirty seconds before her midnight curfew. When she entered the house after an evening of teenage rebelliousness, she found her mother awake in her living room rocking chair, reviewing Crossroads lessons and writing letters to students. It left a lasting impression on the teen.

“A few years later, I was married and had finally come to my senses and had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” Bernice said. “I had a strong desire to volunteer somewhere, and the first ministry that came to my mind was Crossroads.”

After volunteering for two years, Bernice joined the Crossroads staff in 2000, where she has now faithfully served for the past twenty-four years.

“I was on staff a year or two when we needed more [in-office] volunteers. It was then that I recruited my favorite volunteer, my mom,” Bernice said.

For Bernice, working alongside her mom over the past two decades has been a tremendous blessing.

“Thinking about where I was at sixteen, living far from God, and how I’d come home while my mom was doing Crossroads lessons—it is so special, for all these years now, after I’ve come to faith in Christ, that my mom and I can serve right alongside each other in this ministry,” she said.

Doris has also felt blessed to volunteer at the office while continuing her work as a volunteer mentor. “It’s been a completion for me to volunteer in the office as well as being a mentor because I get an overall view of the ministry and how it is really making a difference,” she said. “Every part of the work done in the office is important, even the minor work, because every step is important to get the lessons out to the students.”

Doris, who has now dedicated thirty-nine years to Crossroads, said, “I can’t believe that I’ve been here as long as I have. It doesn’t feel that long because I get such joy out of it. The Lord’s work is the best work in the world. Sometimes, when I leave the office, I thank the Lord all the way home that I can be involved.”

Bernice says that, even amid many changes and incredible growth at the ministry, “What has stayed the same all these years is the incredible impact that Crossroads Bible study lessons have on people in prison.”

In 2018, when Crossroads introduced the Who Are You? course to offer more accessible material for students with lower literacy levels, Bernice vividly recalls a student who responded to the question, “Who are you?” with his prisoner ID number.

“It broke my heart that that’s how the student saw himself,” she said. It affirmed to her the importance of Crossroads’ mission and the opportunity she has, through her work, to share the messages of hope and redemption to people behind bars, reminding students that their past actions do not define them.

Doris has found that Crossroads is the perfect fit for her. “It just enriches my life so much,” she said. “These prisoners really need this support, and it is wonderful that I can touch lives so far away, right at home.”


Learn more about volunteering as a Crossroads mentor or in our Grand Rapids office.

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