The Maximum Security Compound of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City holds about 12,000 prison inmates.
Menacing looks, grim faces, and bulging muscles on tattooed arms. These alone would suggest that these are men with hardened cores. With criminal convictions from stealing to kidnapping to murder, they have been branded by society as bad news.
But, believe it or not, these tough-looking men are just like you and I - they have insecurities, worries, and yes, even fear. It was for them that the Philippine Bible Society came up with the booklet, "Is There Any Hope for My Future?" The booklet, which is called Prisoner's Portion, is specifically for prison inmates and answers some of the questions they often ask: "Is there someone who loves me?" "Does God really care for me?" "What's in store for me in the future?" Printing of copies were made possible through the United Bible Societies' Opportunity 21 Program.
Since its publication, 150,000 copies have been distributed to over 70 provincial, municipality/city jails and penal farms throughout the country. This task was achieved through the cooperative endeavors of PBS with the International Bible Society as well as with churches and organizations that have jail ministries.
Through the teachings about forgiveness, hope, and comfort, the book has became a catalyst of change among hundreds of prison inmates. Many have written to share how, in their dark and helpless situation, they have found true and lasting hope through Jesus.
"This (prisoners') booklet has helped me a lot. Instead of thinking about getting even with my enemies, I learned to ask the Lord to intervene for me," relates 20-year-old Archie who is currently detained at Batangas Provincial Jail (BPJ).
Bibles for Prisoners
The inmates have not only derived comfort from the booklet but have also developed a deep hunger for God's Word. With the testimonies have come requests for copies of the Bible. The same request is being received from prison inmates in various penal institutions all over the country. This can only mean that more inmates are realizing their need for God's Word. Seizing the opportunity to bring them God's Word, PBS embarked on the project "Bibles for Prisoners" in June 2003. The Bibles are in English, Bicol, Cebuano and Ilocano.
These two prison inmates in Batangas Provincial Jail regularly attend their weekly Bible study.
Since July, distribution of "Bibles for Prisoners" have been undertaken in two prison facilities in Naga City, and Legazpi City, five town/city jails in Camarines Sur, New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, provincial jail in Batangas, and city jails in Manila, Quezon City and Las Piæls. These distribution activities were in cooperation with dedicated churches and service organizations, like the newly re-organized National Prison Ministries, Philippines, headed by Dr. Reynaldo Taniajura. Presently, PBS has already distributed 3,000 Bibles. However, this figure is but a drop in the proverbial bucket as there are more than 100,000 inmates in all the penal institutions combined. Providing each a copy of God's Word would take a great amount of financial provision as well as dedicated volunteers.
The work may be slow, sometimes frustrating, but the reward is great. Nothing is sweeter than when one hears the Good News bending a 'bad news' to admission of his need and dependence on God.
Or when one hears inmate Bro. Manny's words attesting: "God's Word gave me life. I believe, with all my heart, that God is with us in this prison."
issue on Nov
by Philippine Bible Society