Inmate recidivism down 15% because of this Bible based program
By Marvin Schrebe
A Texas based prison ministry is seeing tremendous results, including a 15% drop in recidivism among inmates who follow a Bible based program.
New Life Behavior Ministries (NLBM), a Bible based program offered by Kings Crossing Church in Corpus Christi, Texas is showing massive decreases in recidivism to incarceration among Texas inmates who have completed at least one course with the ministry. New Life is helping change lives of inmates and helping them successfully acclimate to a life of freedom. They’ve also help dropped recidivism rates to under 10% for those who’ve completed at least one course, compared with 25% for inmates who haven’t completed the course.
The NLBM course was originally designed by Dr. H. M. Motsinger in 1984 in Dallas. Dr. Motsinger then passed the torch in ‘88 to Buck Griffith who remains the director of the program today. Since he took the reigns of the program, it’s expanded into 42 states and several foreign countries along with 37 “Regional Directors” in 17 states. Oklahoma and Alabama have organized statewide to increase their impact.
“This ministry speaks volumes to the community if the church is interested in ministering to these often ignored and neglected souls. There must be a place for everyone in the church,” stated Griffith.
Griffith, however may have been one of the least likely candidates for this type of ministry. He explained, “I was well on my way to becoming a 28-year-old self-righteous preacher in 1971 when I received an unexpected letter at Burbank Gardens Church of Christ in Grand Prairie, Texas. The letter was from an inmate in Dallas County Jail requesting a Bible and study course. What made this unusual is all that had been going on in our local community.”
Griffith relates the horrible crime committed in his city and the way the community was feeling at the time.
“A man named Ed turned himself in for kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and killing a four-year-old girl and tossing her body into the brush of the Trinity River bottom. My daughter was four years old and I had “personalized” the heinous crime. My initial hope was that the perpetrator would end up getting the death penalty.”
In other words, this type of ministry was outside of his comfort zone, at least at first. But a letter Griffith and his church later received from Ed was reaching out to the church for help, and guidance toward forgiveness and salvation.
“All he said in the letter was: “I have committed an awful crime and I know if I died today, I would go straight to hell. Please, help me.”
While relieved that the man was remorseful for what he had done, Griffith did not want to touch this with “a ten foot pole.” He explained, “I didn’t want to touch this thing with a ten-foot pole so I took it to the next meeting of our elders. Each elder read it and gave it back to me saying I should “take care of it.” This is what I call “passing the buck to Buck.”
He then tried to delegate the job to another prison worker, who insisted they go together. He ended up getting saved, baptized, forgiven and given a new life in Christ, all because Griffith finally decided to say "yes" to God. By the time the trial date came, Ed was a new man in Christ. After completing the program and finding God for himself, he faced the punishment for his crime.
“Ed’s trial date arrived. I silently sat throughout the trial. He admitted his guilt. They gave him the death penalty. I recalled how I had hoped this would happen before I met him. Nothing about his guilt or innocence had changed but I could not rejoice when I heard the verdict. Part of me wanted to shout out about how dramatically Ed’s heart and life had changed but it had zero to do with the case at hand. Nevertheless, Ed and I kept studying and praying until the very day he left for Huntsville.”
This experience set off a chain effect at the jail, with dozens responding to Christ and the opportunity to evangelize even more people, because of his ability to reach even the hardest of criminals with the gospel.
“By the time that day came, dozens of others had been introduced to Christ and walking with Him. Soon, we had church ladies going into the jail to study with and baptize female offenders. More men of the church were going. We were conducting Sunday worship services. We were working with some who had been released in the community and they were attending church regularly. We began ministering to alcoholics and drug addicts. We started accepting our responsibility to follow up on those going to prisons in and beyond Texas. In 1974, we hosted the FIRST of what would become a nationwide gathering of jail and prison ministry workers annually.”
According to Griffith, one reason for Christians to be concerned with prison ministry is because Jesus commanded us to be concerned with it. “I was in prison and you visited me," he said. “Prisons are a wide open mission field full of people who need love,”