by Rosemary Redshaw
After 27 years of working inside as a chaplain, I wondered what it would be like overseeing a correspondence ministry. Would I miss the face to face contact? Would it be the same impact?
One of the first emails I received was from Raymond in Nigeria, “Dear People of Christ, My name is Raymond Ajagbe, from Nigeria. I was once an inmate at the Don Jail in Toronto between the year 1996-1997. I am very happy to tell you that your prison Bible courses were of help in developing me spiritually while I was there. I still have about 10 certificates in different bible courses your ministry gave to me. After leaving Don Jail in 1997, December I had to go back to my country Nigeria to start a new life. Today, I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a ministry that rehabilitate alcohol and drug addicts.”
Looking up Raymond, I saw he was featured in the Nigerian Tribune in March 2014 for his work with those who suffering with drug and alcohol issues.
This sealed for me the impact of a Bible, a study and the power of the Holy Spirit in the cell of an offender.
We have watched, over our history, the cost of incarceration explode. Corrections now spends $100,000 to $240,000 per year to house one offender. It costs the equivalent of $420 per year to sponsor one student in completing 10 Bible correspondence courses and have the possibility of making an eternal difference.
I believe all people who are in prison are there for a spiritual reason. Each day a student is involved in our studies, is one day they have spent focusing on our redeemer. This has meant almost 11,000 days that Canadian offenders, through the ministry of New Life Prison Ministry, have spent with Jesus in 2015. They were not in conflict; they were focused on the purpose and meaning God can offer them.
Our students say; “I love these courses……While serving my time in prison not only do I find peace, but others around me begin to question what it is I’m doing and how I’m not going absolutely crazy locked up in this jail cell day after day.” And, “The courses you offer have been a great help in a very dark time of my life. I learned a great deal and also when I felt no help and had negative thoughts, my studies would lift my spirits up and change my thoughts!”
Rosemary Redshaw is administrative director for New Life Prison Ministry, featured in the May/Jun Faith Today. NLPM offers hope and direction to those impacted through the criminal justice system by presenting the good news of Jesus Christ through Bible correspondence studies, prison chapel services, visitation, video showings and aftercare support so that God’s name may be honoured and glorified.