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Saturday, June 15, 2024 - 11:40 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Organization celebrates 10 years and nearly 800,000 prisoners’ lives transformed through The Prisoner's Journey

WASHINGTON  -- Prison Fellowship International’s flagship in-prison program, The Prisoner’s Journey® (TPJ) has reached its 10-year anniversary. This program, launched in South Africa and Nigeria in 2014, now runs in 35 countries across six continents. TPJ takes those in prison on a journey of self-discovery through the Gospel of Mark where they encounter Jesus the prisoner to learn who He is, why He came and what it means to follow Him.

Since inception, more than 1,600,000 prisoners in nearly 900 prisons around the world have been invited to learn about Jesus through TPJ. Of those, 772,379 have accepted the invitation, continued through the eight-week course and made a commitment to Christ through program graduation. Nearly 70% of those who complete TPJ demonstrate true heart conversion by continuing on to participation in another evangelism or discipleship course, a strong indicator of lasting life change.

“Many prisoners want to change but don’t know how. Their incarceration (or too often, re-incarceration) is a tangible, public reminder of their failures,” said Andrew Corley, Prison Fellowship International President and Chief Executive Officer. “However, the pain that accrues in their hearts can propel them to try new things, like accepting an invitation to join The Prisoner’s Journey. The Gospel message and hope that they discover through the program often results in transformation that affects them, their families, and ultimately, communities when they re-enter society.”

Qualitative stories shared from around the world demonstrate how TPJ impacts those who participate. Alfred, a graduate from Côte d’Ivoire, had been involved in criminal activity in and out of prison. After completing the course, he said, “My life has completely changed. Reading the Gospel of Mark brought me the good news of Jesus and changed my mentality.” Alfred has since accepted Christ, agreeing to walk with Jesus and obey His word. “I am a living witness of God’s goodness, grace and mercy,” he said.

Quantitative data has also proven that TPJ changes lives. Research conducted by Baylor University found that TPJ participation increases religious engagement, virtuosity and a sense of meaning in life. It also decreases negative emotional states and aggression. Other Prison Fellowship International surveys have found that prisoners receive 87% more family visits and commit 49% fewer violent acts after participating in the program. Spiritually, prisoners are six times more likely to pray once a day or more after completing TPJ.

Prison Fellowship International also celebrates its strategic partnership with Christianity Explored Ministries, a collaborator on source content and dozens of program trainings. Bible League InternationalAmerican Bible Society and Eastern European Mission have also been integral members of this global team, providing hundreds of thousands of Bibles to prisoners in their heart languages as part of this program.

“In 2014, there was no way to know the magnitude of what the decision to partner would mean,” said Ian Roberts, Christianity Explored Ministries Chief Executive. “There was hope, there was vision–we were expectant. But how God has moved through this program to reach millions is truly something only He could do.”

Across the 35 countries that currently run TPJ, program courses are delivered in 16 languages. Countries include Argentina, Albania, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Over the next five years, nearly 1.1 million incarcerated men and women will be invited to participate in the program with an expected more than 700,000 of them joining the journey. Following current discipleship trends, approximately 500,000 program graduates are expected to continue with faith-based programming.

The culmination of TPJ’s impact on prisoners around the world is captured in this video.  

About Prison Fellowship International Since 1979, Prison Fellowship International has helped prisoners experience transformation from the inside out through the power of the Gospel. Its mission is to transform the lives of prisoners, their families and victims through a global network of ministry partners.