Local Ministry Celebrates 30 Years of Working With Prisoners

Lubbock's Exodus Prison Ministry has spent the past three decades working to keep people out of prison..by bringing them to faith.

Lubbock's Exodus Prison Ministry has taught bible studies, by mail, for more than three decades.

Each year they teach, via mail correspondence, thousands of prisoners nationwide. Last year, more than 4,300 new participants enrolled.

"There are 12 sets of 3 books each, and when they finish those, [the inmates] take a test," according to Carol Jean Blakely, the Exodus office manager. "We grade them, send them back, and send the next set of books."

Scott Vanderhoof enrolled in the program while he spent almost two years in state prison. Carol Jean was his mentor.

"One thing about Carol Jean, she's never had a moment with me where she wasn't real."

Research shows that upon release, 2/3 of all prisoners in the U.S. will find themselves back behind bars. Vanderhoof says he probably would have too, were it not for Exodus. 

"I believe there would have been more than a 65% chance. because had I not lost my bitterness," Vanderhoof says. "I would have gone right back into the middle of all the turmoil I had left."

"When Scott wrote in for enrollment, there was something about his enrollment, that made me offer to fast track him," Blakely says. "I don't know what it was." 

And fast track he did.

"I did 171 bible studies while I was in prison for 22 months," he says.

And Vanderhoof says it's more than just the gospel that gets inmates through incarceration....it's the human companionship they receive, too.

"In this correspondence, when [Carol Jean] wrote back and..gave me comfort, gave me peace," he tearfully recounts. "You don't realize how important that is when you're incarcerated."  

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