This year’s Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering and Week of Prayer is September 12-19. Each year we feature stories that show the impact of your giving. 

Each year we covered many aspects of Arkansas Baptist life to share just how far your giving can go to reach the state. The following is an update on one of the ministries funded through the 2020 Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.  

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary at Varner 

It was announced in May 2019 that through Dixie Jackson missions funding and a partnership with Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, an extension of their campus would make its home in the Varner Unit, a high security state prison, near Grady, Arkansas. As part of our mission, we featured them in the Dixie Jackson Campaign in 2020.  

At the time, there was one class of approximately 21 students who embarked on the four-year journey required to achieve a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies. Many of the students had life or life without parole sentences – with some students getting the opportunity at the end to have a shorter sentence (if parole was an option) in an agreement with the Arkansas Department of Corrections.  

These men, who were part of the first inaugural class, are now juniors and are close to completing their degrees. Many will have the opportunity to minister to their unit and other units across the state upon graduating. Twenty-one new students make up the second cohort of students to begin the journey to receiving their degree. According to Bob Fielding, Consultant for Chaplaincy & National/International Missions Consultant at the ABSC, the plan is to start a new class every two years.  

“The semester is off to a great start,” said Dr. Mark Thompson, Director of Arkansas Prison Initiative. “The second cohort guys brought an enthusiasm that was needed to the program. We have guys who are attending chapel that previously did not and the first cohort guys are currently working through Experiencing God. God is building some strong warriors and softening some hearts to the Gospel. Keep praying for some guys to be saved.”  

Due to COVID, practical ministry opportunities for the guys to use what they’re learning was put on hold. There is discussion and plans to bring back some of these opportunities for the spring semester. Many of the students are helping in different ways until then as tutors, computer lab and office assistants, graders and more.  

Thanks to Arkansas Baptists’ giving through their church to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering, lives are being changed and used for the Kingdom in one of the darkest places. Continue praying for this ministry and that doors would be opened for lives to be saved.  

To watch this year’s videos, click here. 

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