“You probably did not plan for your life to end up the way it is now. Maybe you doubt it is worth making any new plans for the future. Maybe you have given up all hope – for you, for your life, for anything.”
That’s how the Free on the Inside Bible starts: by identifying the situation most inmates find themselves in – captive, alone, and in despair. Instead of dwelling on their trouble, however, it quickly offers this hope: “God can break into your darkness.”
What follows are more questions and prompts to help prisoners see that God loves them and desires to meet them where they are.
“One of the first followers of Jesus was sitting in his prison cell,” the introduction points out. “He knew that God’s people can be locked up. But he also knew the power of God. He had seen for himself that there are no limits to God’s freedom. So he wrote a letter to his friend Timothy that God’s Word is not held back by chains.”
It’s no wonder that Free on the Inside has become such a powerful outreach and discipling tool for prison chaplains and ministries in the United States and around the world. First developed in 1994 in partnership with Prison Fellowship, this unique Bible uses the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV), a translation based on the New International Version (NIV) that is simplified for a third-grade reading level. The Free on the Inside Bible also provides both seekers and Christians with practical study help.
Perhaps the greatest resource in Free on the Inside, aside from the biblical text itself, is the collection of personal testimonies from prisoners who have had their lives transformed by God and His Word.
“It was through the Bible,” an inmate writes, “that I heard God’s voice. I read in the Gospel of John that Jesus was the vine and I was the branch and that apart from Him I could do nothing. That was me. I was a broken man who could do nothing to save his own life. All my life I had run from God. Now I was determined to walk with Him.”
“I’ve done so many things that counted for nothing,” says another prisoner. “I hit bottom after getting arrested yet again. I wanted to die so badly. I said to God, ‘You’ve got to give me something to hold onto because I can’t go on.’ I opened my Bible after that to Isaiah 54 and read words that burned into my heart: ‘For a brief moment I left you. But because I love you so much, I will bring you back.’ That was the beginning.”
At Biblica, we receive testimonies like this every week. Many tell of how God has used His Word to rescue them. Others request Bibles.
“Thank you so much for my Bible! I read it all day. Thank you! It gives me a chance to talk to others and share His Word. As a matter of fact, I do a daily devotional with others.”
“I am writing from behind the walls of Larimer County Detention Center,” explains another letter. “I want to thank you for sending the Bible I had requested. In using my new Bible, I have led two fellow inmates to God. They asked me to send this letter to you with the hope of getting two more Bibles that they could have.”
The message in the Free on the Inside Bible is loud and clear: you are not alone, you have not been forgotten, you are important to God, and He has a plan for your life.
As more and more inmates seek God in His Word, they are experiencing the forgiveness and love they so desperately need. And as the title implies, they are discovering freedom on the inside.
Will you partner with us to take God’s Word to those in prison? Your gift of $20 will provide 5 Bibles so that inmates can have the opportunity to have their lives transformed. Join us today.
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- Can Prisoners Be Truly Free While in Prison? - August 3, 2017