Tuesday, May 06, 2008


My love-hate relationship with NOBTS has gone on for many years now. I've loved the classroom instruction but had a running gun battle with the administration. It's been tough. So when I can find an opportunity to praise the work of NOBTS, I want to take it. Take a minute and read this report from the seminary's extension in the Mississippi State Prisons. NOBTS has had a pioneering effort in the Louisiana prisons and it appears Mississippi is going great too.

Our God is at work around us and if we just open our eyes, we will see Him and once again learn to stand in awe of Him and exclaim, "Wow."

Both are words we have experienced here at the NOBTS extension at Parchman. Since August of 2004 God has been changing lives in much the same way He chose to do at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. I will try to catch you up-to-date with all that has been happening during this year.

Let me share the WOW with you first. God is simply amazing. We now have an extension within our extension. The super-max facility known as unit 32, where four men lost their lives last summer and several others have been stabbed or brutally beaten, houses most of the lockdown inmates at Parchman. These inmates are "C" custody and are not allowed any contact with inmates of "B" or "A" custody. The students we have at our main campus located at unit 30 are all "B" or "A" custody. In October, we petitioned the state to allow us begin offering accredited courses at unit 32. The Department of Corrections agreed and we began with 15 students in January. Now that is worth a WOW and a Praise God, is it not?

Would you like another WOW? One of our 15 inmates at unit 32 was witnessing to an inmate on his tier. After a Monday night class, he was excited about what we had been discussing and decided to try to witness to this inmate again. Instead of listening to him, the inmate pulled a shank and attacked our student, cutting him 9 times: twice in the chest, four cuts on his head and three on his arms. Our student not only survived the attack but is back in class and has forgiven the other inmate for the attack. Our student's prison moniker is "Killer," and another inmate, a non-Christian, exclaimed, "Killer, Jesus really has changed you hasn't he!" He is a walking witness to God's ability to completely change an inmate from a killer to a martyr. Can you say WOW?

How about one more WOW? Since the first of this academic year in August 2007 our inmate-students have led over 1458 prayer meetings, 235 worship services and 3, 440 Bible studies with an average of 5 non inmate-students at each Bible study. Can you say Amen, Praise the Lord and WOW?

Can you stand one more little WOW? In the past academic year, our men have personally led 82 men to the saving knowledge of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Friends, personally there is no greater reason for me to shout "Wow" and "Hallelujah" for what our great God is doing in this place.

With all of these "wows," there are still a few "uh-oh's" we have let slip from our lips this last year. There are some academic failures and inmates going on probation due to poor grades. We have lost a few students for disciplinary actions taken by the Department of Corrections. One inmate was lost to us because he was transferred to the Governor's Mansion. We have lost two who have been taken back to their counties of crime on court orders. These "uh-oh's" in no way diminish the things God is doing. I received a letter from an inmate at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl who had been led to Christ by one of the inmates who had been taken from our program on court order. God turned an "uh-oh" into a "Wow." God is so awesome!

We want to thank each of you who have stood with us these last 4 years. The eternal consequences of your support and encouragement will never be fully realized in this life. So the best we can do now is just sit back, watch God at work and humbly, but excitedly shout, "WOW!"
Dr. Johnny Bley, Director

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