Bible College in U.S. Maximum Security Prisons Turns Hard-Core Criminals into Messengers of Hope

Inmates work on their papers inside the Southwestern Baptist Theological computer lab at the Darrington Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice men’s prison in Rosharon, Texas, U.S.A.Reuters

People are finding God—and even becoming His messengers of hope—in some of the most unlikely places in the world: America’s maximum security prisons.

Showing that the love of God can soften even the hardest heart, hard-core criminals are being transformed into followers and disciples of Christ, thanks to the Bible college degree programme offered by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, CBN News reports.

Seminary Dean Denny Autrey said the Bible programme has helped change the long culture of violence in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison.

“Angola was the bloodiest prison in America,” Autrey told CBN News. “Since the Bible college has come there, they’ve reduced their crime inside the prison by 72 percent, so the idea basically is to change the culture by changing the heart with the message of the gospel.”

The programme is also being implemented at Darrington Prison in Rosharon, Texas after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and state Sen. John Whitemire visited Angola prison.

Autrey said the programme offers inmates a Bible college degree to prepare them for pastoral ministry. In the first two years of the programme, student inmates take general education courses, including math, English, and science, followed by two years of theological training and pastoral ministries.

In Texas, graduates of the programme are sent to prisons across the state. They live among the general population of prisoners where they hope to encourage fellow inmates to change their ways.

Numerous inmates have shared how the programme has redeemed them and given them hope.

One of them is Troup Foster, 54, who is serving a life sentence for capital murder. He said he finally found God, who is now showing him the way to a fulfilled Christian life, after spending nearly eight years in solitary confinement.

“I was thinking about suicide, thinking about ending my life but I remembered the Jesus from my childhood. So I got down on my knees and I cried out to God, ‘Please if you’re here, you’re gonna have to carry me.’ And from that point forward he revealed himself to me,” Foster said.

Once a member of a notorious prison gang, Foster eventually became one of the seminary’s first graduates. Today, he ministers to other hardened convicts.