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Inmates relay gratitude for self-study plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Quite a few letters from inmates arrive at Pam Stubblefield’s desk.

“I get letters almost daily telling me how a certain workbook in the Christian Growth Study Plan has made a difference in the lives of inmates,” said Stubblefield, a staffer at LifeWay Christian Resources. “I also get letters from prison chaplains and volunteers telling me how our resources, MasterLife in particular, have impacted the lives of incarcerated individuals.”

Stubblefield, who works in LifeWay’s leadership ministry training and events department, also has received phone calls from parents of inmates sharing how their sons and daughters have grown closer to God through their CGSP studies.

The Christian Growth Study Plan (see www.lifeway.com/cgsp) is a free service that LifeWay, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, has provided for more than 100 years. It is a systematic self-study, guided Christian growth curriculum that churches and individuals can use for leadership and ministry development. CGSP has a certificate plan through which participants can receive credit for work they have completed.

Donna Gandy, manager of training and events services at LifeWay, noted that LifeWay, through CGSP, has had a longstanding relationship with prison chaplains and ministries.

“Chaplains in prison ministries find that CGSP is a great way for inmates to study in a structured way Christian growth principles,” Gandy said.

The five most popular CGSP courses among inmates are “Experiencing God,” “Survival Kit,” “Living Your Christian Values,” “God’s Transforming Word” and “Making Peace with Your Past.” Since the program’s inception, more than 14,000 requests have been received from inmates for CGSP credit.

In searching out ways to become more involved in prison ministry, Duncan and Stubblefield learned about the Tennessee Faith in Corrections Conference, an annual conference for chaplains and volunteers who work in prison ministry.

The two women have had a booth featuring LifeWay resources for the past two years at the two-day conference.

“This is a wonderful way to showcase the many resources we have to help prison ministries,” Duncan said.

Conference attendee Deborah Newman, a volunteer who mentors women inmates at the West Tennessee Detention Facility, said she has used Making Peace with Your Past on many occasions. “This is an incredible resource that teaches women to settle their issues from the past and give God control of their lives. I have seen many women let go of many hurtful issues of their past and move on to freedom in Christ.”

Newman also has seen a growth in the popularity of the Spanish Bible published by Holman Bible Outreach International, a LifeWay ministry.

“I minister to many immigrants who speak Spanish and the HBOI has been a blessing to them,” said Newman, of Mason, Tenn.

“With all the women I work with, I want to instill in them that God is our healer. I teach them that God is the only key to set them free. If God is not involved in the rehabilitation process, I can’t promise what the outcome will be.”

Various courses available to churches and individuals through the Christian Growth Study Plan provide training for adult Sunday School leaders, childhood education, deacon ministry, lay ministry and Baptist doctrine.
Kelly Shrout is the employee communications editor at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. To learn more about Christian Growth Study Plan, visit www.lifeway.com/cgsp.

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  • Kelly Shrout