DIXIE JACKSON: Seminary equips the incarcerated to share the Gospel

God’s ability to do immeasurably more extends to places that most of us will never go, including prisons in Arkansas. 

Although numerous programs and ministries exist in the prison system, they often overlook an important segment of the prison population: those serving long-term or life sentences. But in August 2019, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis partnered with Arkansas Baptists and the Arkansas Department of Corrections to provide an accredited four-year degree in Christian Ministries that targets this very population. The Christian Ministries track not only enables the inmates to earn a bachelor’s degree, it also equips them to minister to a community desperately in need of the gospel. 

Robert Rockett is one of those students. His first arrest came at age 16. Within a few years, Robert had already been released and re-arrested two more times, which resulted in a life sentence. Over the years, Robert embarked on a series of spiritual journeys, exploring Islam, Buddhism, and other religions. His desire was to seek God, and God responded, directing Robert to Himself and changing his life — even a life that would be spent in prison. 

Having explored so many belief systems, Robert knows what it’s like to not have a right view of God. Even though his eyes had been opened to the one true God, he knew that he still needed to grow in his understanding.  He also knew that, by studying for himself, he’d be able to minister better to others. “Having an understanding and being able to do something with it — that meant a lot to me.”

Each class Robert has taken so far has impacted him uniquely. A Christian education course showed Robert just how much all of his education over the years has impacted him. Although music falls well outside his strengths and talents, his music class taught him a lot about how he learns, preparing him for other classes that are challenging to him. Philosophy has opened his eyes to topics and ideas he’d never encountered, and his Old Testament class has given him a better understanding of God’s Word. 

Robert wants to help his fellow inmates understand the truth about who God is, whether they’re in for the long haul like he is or are anticipating release back into society. The more he learns through his classes, the more he is able to articulate and communicate the love and truth of God to those around him. His desire is to help them go beyond a general knowledge of God to a true, personal relationship with Him. He knows he has a hard audience, but he’s determined to help them see that they are loved children of God. 

For so long, Robert found closed doors every time he tried to become involved in programs to help him learn and grow. But thanks to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering and the faithful giving and prayers of Arkansas Baptists, Robert is now a missionary. Miraculously, God is allowing Arkansas Baptists and men like Robert to join forces, accomplishing immeasurably more than we could imagine. 

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