Seventh-day Adventist entrepreneurs in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo have decided to fund Christian literature for inmates serving time in prisons across the region. Lay members behind the initiative estimate that this year alone, more than 1,000 copies of a Portuguese edition of Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy will be distributed to inmates. The delivery of the book has already begun, and it’s being carried out in partnership with Adventist pastors, who serve as evangelists, and leaders of the region’s publishing ministry.
October is the month chosen to celebrate National Book Day in honor of Brazil’s National Library, founded in the same month in 1810. Since the 1960s, October 29 has been a day dedicated to promoting reading across Brazil. “Reading has the power to free the imagination in any circumstances, even inside a prison,” initiative organizers said.
Pastors in Prisons
Regional Adventist communication leaders recently visited one of the prisons to witness the delivery of part of these book resources. It is a ministry in partnership with evangelism, as one pastor visits the prison every week and coordinates the follow-up.
“We visit the local prison every Monday,” local pastor Jhonatan Lopes said, “and we have face-to-face interaction with inmates.”
Prison social worker Juliana do Espírito Santo said the religious assistance provided seeks to help those who are in prison. “It aims to make the impact of their incarceration lighter, and to respond in a way anyone can have free access to religious care.” Faith-based visits and reading-based initiatives have often proved to improve the inmates’ behavior, she said, something that can help them to get their sentences reduced.
This initiative from the Adventist Church of providing spiritual assistance and fostering reading seeks to prepare inmates for an easier transition back to society and the job market, organizers said.
Inmates agree. “These faith-based initiatives impacted my life and helped me to get to know Jesus,” one of them, who is not identified for security reasons, said. “Presently, people around me don’t see me they way they used to.”
The inmate added that he is now in charge of promoting spiritual activities in the prison. And as he comes closer to the end of his sentence, he said, he wants to preach in the community where he lived and on behalf of the prisoners who remain there.
Paulo Alberto Leite, a pastor in Linhares, where one of the prisons is located, said it is an essential ministry, because Jesus identified Himself with groups such as these. “Jesus has very clear expectations about this mission. And one day He will say, ‘When I was in prison, you came to visit me,’ ” he said.