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26 June 2014

Christianity Explored to reach one million prisoners

Christianity Explored to reach one million prisoners

Christianity Explored Ministries (CEM) has announced a major new link up with Prison Fellowship International (PFI). Under the new initiative, the Christianity Explored Prisons edition course will form a key part of PFI's strategy to take the gospel to one million prisoners throughout the world by 2020.

Two pilot projects have recently been launched in Nigeria and South Africa.

A total of 250 volunteers and chaplains were trained in two Nigerian locations, Abuja and Lagos, on how to run the course. Those who attended the training were very positive and realised the impact will be felt outside of the prison, as well as within. One minister enthused about the materials: "This programme is not just about the inmates. I have seen that some of the things we learnt we could use in our other church programmes and activities."

Another 60 volunteers and chaplains completed the leader's training in South Africa. One participant said afterwards: "It's very difficult to put into words what the course meant for me personally. I come from a family who went to church twice a year but we didn't 'live' Christianity.

"I longed for a closer relationship with God but never quite fitted in with the well-spoken people of the Church. They always knew how to pray and seemed to have all the answers - and I had nothing. The course material we received has been teaching me a lot, and I'm so grateful for it."

Christianity Explored was founded by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper of All Soul's Langham Place, London in 2002. It is popular all over the world, with over 5,000 courses a year being run in over 80 countries. It has been translated into over 20 different languages.

There are three phases to the prisons edition: the prisoners journey, exploring Jesus and overcoming obstacles which takes prisoners through being able to identify with Jesus, focus on who Christ is and encounter a personal relationship with him.

It is estimated that 9,000 prisoners will attend a welcome event for The Prisoners Journey in Nigeria and South Africa in the coming weeks and months. PFI anticipates that 3,000 of these will go on to complete the course in 15 prisons by the end of the year.Plans are well underway for another 15 countries to join the programme in 2015.

Ian Roberts, chief executive of CEM, said: "We've been thrilled how the prisons edition of Christianity Explored has already been embraced by chaplains and volunteers in the UK and beyond. We are even more delighted now to have this opportunity of partnering with PFI, an organisation whose scope of ministry in prisons and heart to share the gospel is unparalleled.

"We trust the enthusiasm with which The Prisoner's Journey training has been received will multiply and lead to prisoners all over the world exploring Mark's Gospel and finding true freedom and salvation in Jesus Christ."

Timothy Khoo, president and CEO of PFI said: "Through the generosity of Christianity Explored, the goal of reaching one million prisoners with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ becomes eminently achievable because it exemplifies the best of partnership in Christian ministry. God is honoured and blesses unity like this".