Dramatic surge for Christianity explored and Prison Fellowship International’s joint global ministry last year

Almost 50,000 inmates completed The Prisoners Journey in 2016

Christianity Explored Ministries’ (CEM) joint venture with Prison Fellowship International (PFI) bore much fruit in 2016. During the last calendar year The Prisoners Journey (TPJ), within which the Christianity Explored course is the key component, was used in 326 prisons – an increase of 141% on the previous year. Nineteen countries (up from eleven in 2015) hosted TPJ courses in their gaols. New nations included Portugal, Honduras, Albania, Kenya and Burkina Faso.  

The numbers of courses and graduates were even more impressive. Graduates rose 175% in 2016, from 17,796 to 49,032. Total courses held worldwide showed a similar increase in the same period – 171%, from 1,822 to 4,943.

Testimonies from those prisoners who have completed the course are powerful. Even more eloquent, perhaps, are those from prison officials and governors who have seen their entire prisons transformed for the better as inmates come to know Christ, in droves. As Mr Mungole, Operations Officer at Kamfinsa State Prison in Zambia said “Do not stop this wonderful course, which has brought inspiration to the whole prison.”

There are an estimated 10m inmates in 22,000 jails across the world. PFI was founded in 1979. Its volunteers currently undertake monthly prison ministry with about 2m inmates in 3,700 prisons in over 120 countries. The Prisoners Journey programme is at the heart of PFI’s strategy to reach more than 1m prisoners with the Gospel by 2020.

The Promotion phase of The Prisoners Journey encourages participants to embark on a journey with Jesus Christ, emphasising that he, too, experienced much of what they feel now, including fear, loneliness, alienation and abandonment.

Prisoners wanting to learn more are invited to join the second phase of the program, The Course, where they go through the Christianity Explored materials in a group setting. This second phase is an eight- week course which simply lets the Gospel of Mark tell the Gospel of Jesus. It focuses on who Christ is (his identity), what he came to do (his mission) and our response to him (his call).

The final phase, Discipleship, seeks to engage prisoners with a real, personal relationship with Christ within the context of the Church.

Ian Roberts, Chief Executive of CEM, comments:

“We are delighted that our partnership with PFI is bearing fruit in such a dramatic way. Not only are thousands coming to profess faith in Christ but also testimonies are being heard from around the world of transformation of entire prisons.

We trust the enthusiasm with which The Prisoner’s Journey has been received worldwide will expand still further in 2017 leading to more prisoners all over the world exploring Mark’s Gospel and finding true freedom and salvation in Jesus Christ.”

Iain Taylor

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