In the Bible, God talks a lot about His heart for those who are imprisoned – both those physically incarcerated and those held captive by strongholds of spiritual darkness.
The Psalmist tells us that the Lord leads prisoners to freedom with singing and releases those condemned to death (Ps. 68:6;102:20). “The Lord sets prisoners free,” Psalm 146 says.
Perhaps the most famous passage regarding prisoners comes from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1).
When Isaiah gave this prophecy, and when Jesus proclaimed it in the synagogue in Nazareth, the message was for everyone poor in spirit, brokenhearted, and captive to sin. While that condition describes all of us, before surrendering to Christ, it is even more fitting for those who are not only prisoners of sin, but actually imprisoned behind bars.
Those who have never been incarcerated, cannot fully grasp the depth of despair that engulfs men and women when they lose their freedom. For prison inmates, discovering God’s Word can provide the hope they need to survive and overcome.
“The Bible gives me faith, hope, and lets me know I’m here for a reason,” writes a man imprisoned in Missouri. “God’s Word makes me feel blessed and it makes me never give up.”
“I read God’s Word to get closer to God,” writes another inmate. “When I read [the Bible] I have more peace in my heart and I don’t worry, I know God has control.”
Biblica has been active in ministry to prisoners since 1815. In the early 1990s, we realized the need for a Bible especially designed for prisoners – something easy to read that included testimonies from fellow prisoners who had experience what they were facing. Working with partners, such as Prison Fellowship, we developed the Free on the Inside Bible.
Since its release in 1994, the Free on the Inside Bible has become Biblica’s most widely distributed, audience-specific Bible. More than 4 million copies are now in print and are being used by prison chaplains across America to minister to inmates. It has also been translated into Russian, French, and Spanish for use in other parts of the world.
We regularly receive letters from prisoners thanking Biblica for the Free on the Inside Bible. And we received many more letters requesting this Bible.
One letter came from Bernie. He had never owned a Bible, he told us, but now had a copy of Free on the Inside and was reading it regularly. “This book is truly a life saver!” Bernie writes. “I love that feeling I get when I get the meaning or points of God’s Word. Thank you for the Bible – best version of the Bible I have seen. Brought me to my knees and saved me from myself and sure damnation. Truly brought me back from a bad choice in spiritual paths. Thank you!”
Kimberly said in her letter, “Thank you so much for my Bible, I read it all day, thank you! Whenever I feel down, He picks me up and I have learned a lot with the Bible.”
Another prisoner wrote, “This version was easy to read. The words are right. It makes me feel like I can understand life more and not take it for granted and do the right things.”
Without the Bible, men and women in prison have little hope. But when they receive God’s Word, they discover a Father who loves them and who sent His Son to save them from their sins.
They find freedom, even behind bars.