What makes Crossroads Prison Ministries unique is that we not only send Bibles and Bible study lessons into prisons, but we also connect people in prison with mentors on the outside who review their lessons and write them encouraging letters.
When a student advances to Tier 2 of the Crossroads mentorship program, they are paired with a one-on-one mentor who journeys alongside them for months or even years. We often hear from students and mentors who say they have developed family-like relationships through the letters they exchange.
But in some cases, it takes time to develop a friendship across prison walls. Letter writing is a slow form of communication, and trust has to be earned.
Phillip is a Crossroads student who was paired with a mentor named Marilyn in 2019. He was initially hesitant to open up to Marilyn. Having been hurt before, he didn’t know if he could really trust her.
“My letters to her were not very personal, and I didn’t always send a letter back with my completed lesson. But she was diligent in her attempts at a real relationship with me,” Phillip said. “Now, we are very close. She has been an encourager to me as I attempt to keep a relationship with my daughter going. I have grieved along with her when she lost her husband. We sincerely care and pray for each other.”
Marilyn is one of the few people on the outside who has shown any love to Phillip.
“I’ve been deserted by most people in my life, except my oldest daughter,” he said. “So when Crossroads gave me a mentor, it added a new person in my life who cares and prays for me.”
Marilyn has found that being Phillip’s mentor has deepened her own faith. It’s also given her something to anticipate each time she opens her mailbox.
“Through letters that I look forward to, I have gotten to know Phillip and his daughter,” said Marilyn. “I have seen him growing in his relationship with the Lord. He is now studying theology through a seminary in Miami, and I tell him how proud I am of him.”
Phillip said Marilyn’s guidance has been instrumental in helping him stay focused on God’s will for his life.
“God has revealed to me His calling on my life to be a teacher of His Word. He has not completely revealed to me how He will use me—it could be anywhere from a Sunday school teacher to a teacher at a university or somewhere in between,” he said. “Crossroads and my mentor are important parts of working toward my calling.”
The friendships fostered through Crossroads often blossom slowly over time, but the fruit of these relationships is beautiful and long-lasting.
Many people in prison have been forgotten or rejected by all their friends and family members on the outside. Through Crossroads, they can connect with other believers, growing closer to God together as they study His Word. Learn more about becoming a Crossroads mentor here.