Czech translation of a discipleship program for the incarcerated
The Czech Republic has the fifth-highest incarceration rate in the European Union (out of 27 EU member states) and the ninth-highest of all the 46 European countries. It is often argued that the Czech Republic is among the most secular countries in the world. Yet, a rich spiritual heritage is part of Czech history, including Jan Hus, a reformer who inspired Martin Luther, and the Moravian Brethren, who accomplished amazing missionary work in North America and all over the world. Despite this rich heritage, the Czech nation is now profoundly secular. Prisoners have a unique opportunity to step away from the snares and demands of life and think about what really matters. Many inmates carry a lot of guilt and experience intense loneliness.
After COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and Czech prisons opened again to NGO workers, a door opened for an evangelism program called The Prisoner’s Journey® (TPJ) to be presented to inmates in a group setting of 8-12. God’s favor was shown through the new director of the entire Czech prison system, who is a believer in Jesus, which is quite special in a population with less than 0.5% of evangelical believers. This 8-week program presents Jesus and the Good News in a concise and appealing way. It follows the storyline of Mark’s gospel, along with video testimonies from different places around the globe of people who met Jesus in prison. This material was translated and published in the Czech language about 10 years ago and, after a slow start, is currently used in about 20 out of 36 prisons by chaplains and volunteers.
The team that created TPJ also developed a follow-up material called Discipleship Explored Prison Edition. This program follows a similar format and uses the book of Philippians to help people discover what following Jesus is about. Each of the eight sessions focuses on a specific topic, such as righteousness, joy, and contentment. It’s easy to make a list of the things Christians do — go to church, read the Bible, pray, share the gospel — but that doesn’t tell us much about what following Jesus is actually like. That’s where Discipleship Explored comes in.
Besides all the good work that prison chaplains do in programs and one-on-one meetings, there is a growing number of graduates of TPJ, along with others who would benefit from further exploring the path of following Jesus through a follow-up program. With your help, we will be able to publish the Czech translation of the Discipleship Explored Prison Edition. The plan is to train leaders of TPJ (chaplains and other volunteers) in leading the Discipleship Explored Prison Edition so that they will have a follow-up program to offer that unpacks the topic of discipleship to the groups that have graduated from TPJ. For this to become a reality, the materials need to be officially published along with the accompanying videos that are yet to be translated and dubbed.