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« on: December 02, 2004, 04:17:40 PM »

Religion News
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Christmas Card Program Sends Christian Caring Behind Bars

by Allie Martin
December 2, 2004

(AgapePress) - More than 30,000 prison inmates are expected to receive Christmas cards as part of an annual campaign by a Christian ministry. Crossroad Bible Institute began its "Send a Card" program several years ago as a way to give Christians an opportunity to reach out to those behind bars.

The Send a Card program gives people a chance to send a Christmas card to one of the many thousands of prisoners enrolled in the ministry's Bible correspondence course. The president of CBI, David Schuringa, says even a simple Christmas card can have a big impact in an inmate's life. He often illustrates this by sharing excerpts from inmates letters.

The CBI spokesman recently appeared on Mission Network News, where he read a letter from a prisoner named James. Schuringa says the inmate, who is incarcerated in Kentucky, writes, "Thank you so much for your kindness and the Christmas card. When I opened it, I cried; I haven't received a Christmas card in over six years. It meant so much to me."

Another letter the ministry leader shared was from an inmate in Pennsylvania named Julia, who said of the Christmas greeting she got through the "Send a Card" program, "It was the only card I received. It made me so happy. Thank you very much."

Schuringa is encouraging Sunday school classes, small groups, and other groups and individuals to make the Send a Card program their Christmas outreach project this year. For those who would like to participate, he points out that getting involved is easy, and there are only a few special guidelines to follow.

"It's very simple," CBI's president says. "You simply select a Christmas card, and this can be in English or Spanish, by the way; leave the name blank at the top -- we'll fill that in -- then you can add a special greeting or encouragement or a Bible text." The cards chosen, however, must also be simple, Schuringa adds. They cannot include things like foil, pop-up parts, stickers, glitter or glue, he says, because "anything like that, the prisons won't accept them. So they just have to be plain cards, but they can be nice cards."

Crossroad Bible Institute has been working since 1984 to equip churches everywhere to provide Bible training and outreach to prison inmates, thereby preparing them for re-entry into society through the truth of God's Word and the love of God's people. CBI equips individuals in the Church to disciple inmates with the Word of God, free of charge, wherever they are incarcerated.

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