This is the real church. It’s a joy to be a part of it!
—Instructor Nancy M., NY
This year, over 5,600 CBI Instructors are faithfully correcting the Bible study lessons of prisoners around the world. These Instructors represent a diverse range of ages, nationalities and denominations, yet their commitment to disciple CBI students points to one characteristic they all share: a passion for bringing the hope of Christ into the chaos of prison.
This passion shines in the personal letters Instructors send with each student’s corrected lesson. Many students attest that these letters are what motivate them to continue in their studies amid the often chaotic atmosphere of prison. “There were times I almost gave up, but the Instructors’ words of encouragement and inspiration in the lessons gave me the push I needed to keep studying,” writes Buck, a CBI student in Texas.
Accountability in their coursework is crucial for CBI students, many of whom face frequent facility transfers, changing regulations, antagonistic peers and, in some developing countries, insufficient resources like bedding and food. “When I thought I could not make it, I could hear my Instructor say, ‘Stay with it!’” writes Kathy, a Tier 3 student in Connecticut. CBI students, like Kathy, draw great strength from their Instructors’ consistent support. Tier 2 and 3 Instructors will even send a “check-in” letter if a student drops contact for six weeks.
For some prisoners, these letters from Instructors are the only personal contact they receive from the “outside world.” George, a student from Australia, wrote to CBI about the timely care he experienced when loneliness overwhelmed him: “Being a prisoner, I felt alone and unloved. But the perseverance and encouragement of my CBI Instructor has been of invaluable assistance. I felt God’s love in my lowest moments.”
But students are not the only ones receiving words of encouragement. “It’s a blessing to have my students tell me that they are praying for me,” writes Judy, an Instructor from Michigan. After thirty years with CBI, Judy certainly knows how much letters from students can uplift and inspire Instructors in their own lives.
During this time of year, we take a moment to celebrate the work of these dedicated Instructors who encourage over 30,000 students on six continents to persevere in their spiritual journeys. Instructors, your weekly commitment to bring compassion into the chaos of prison truly embodies Jesus’ words of Matthew 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” From CBI staff and from all the lives you have touched, thank you for your faithful service!