The Indispensible Word

“Their honesty, vulnerability, and fear of God is so refreshing,” says Barb Sorensen (Alliance missionary to Republic of the Congo) about the students in her Bible class. “They are teaching me to be careful to be real and not religious; to talk about a relationship. They don’t know about religion, but they do know about Jesus.” 
Sorensen’s classes consist mostly of released prison inmates, all of whom completed the Emmaus Bible Correspondence Course while in prison and desired to further their Christian training. “Currently in the Brazzaville prison, 20 percent of the 300 inmates are going through the Emmaus course,” she says. “It is quite a task for our two Bible bookstore men to keep up with all the correcting and keeping lists of all the grades and courses completed.” 
Initially, Sorensen began visiting the prison in early 2004 to share Scripture and pray with the women who speak French. A gifted pastor’s wife, Yoyo, joined Sorensen in the ministry, translating into Lingala. After awhile, male inmates asked why they were not taught God’s Word. “I heard about Emmaus just when the men asked for more training in [the Bible],” Sorensen says. “Today, we have 71 people studying the course.” 
Although she doesn’t ask why her students were imprisoned, Sorensen usually finds out when they confess their stories to her. “Aimé (ee-MAY) was a false prophet before he was in prison,” she says. “His thunderous voice and soothing singing drew many, and he used prayer as a way to make money.” 
But things went bad for Aimé when someone overhead his conversation with two of his followers who had sought his counsel about an investment. The mens’ home was vandalized and their money taken. Because they believed Aimé to be the only person who knew about their financial interests, the men reported the theft to the police, accusing Aimé. 
“While he was in prison doing the Emmaus Bible Correspondence Course, the Lord showed Aimé the error in his life,” says Sorensen. Aimé trusted in Jesus and then became the worship leader in the church group that met each week. When he was released from prison, he pursued additional Christian training through Theological Education by Extension (TEE) with Sorensen. “Presently, Aimé is part of the leadership team of a prayer group that is beginning in the neighborhood where he lives,” Sorensen says. “His singing is now dedicated to lift up the Lord Jesus.” 
Recently, Sorensen received a letter from prison officials thanking her for the Emmaus course and its impact on the lives of the inmates. Two national pastors and another missionary now share the preaching privileges to nearly 100 prisoners each Friday. “Regularly, 15 or more respond to the call for salvation,” she says. “Recently, one of the students was baptized, the first baptism in the prison.” 
Currently, Sorensen facilitates four TEE classes, impressed with the power of God’s Word in her student’s lives. “It thrills my heart because I know His Word will accomplish what He has sovereignly ordained,” she says. “There is this sense, too, that we are so dispensable; only His Word is indispensable. He uses whoever is available, but He does the work. I am privileged to be a dispensable part of His plan at this moment in these inmates’ lives.”


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