Ex-prisoner inspired by Mennonite Bible studies
Now he has his own prison ministryBy Melodie Davis Mennonite Mission Network
HARRISONBURG, Va. — A former prison inmate who was brought to faith with the help of Mennonite Bible studies he received in jail recently expressed thanks for their inspiration.
Timothy K. Maloney of Dry Ridge, Ky., who had been jailed after a youth of theft and other trouble, said a 10-year sentence in Maryland changed his life, as well as the lives of hundreds of others he has influenced through his own prison ministry.
When a house fire destroyed everything Maloney had on Christmas Eve 2002, including the hundreds of achievement certificates he had earned for completing Bible study courses in prison, he started looking for ways to replace the certificates. The search led him to Mennonite Media.
From the 1950s through the early 1980s, home Bible studies were offered by the former Mennonite Broadcasts as a followup to its radio programs heard across the United States and Canada.
Maloney completed all of the Bible correspondence courses he could find and longed for more. He started researching what was available, and eventually came across the Mennonite Bible-study courses, which were used and available free in many prisons.
At one time, Mennonite Broadcasts had a full-time director, several part-time Bible study instructors and volunteers who graded the lessons — at one point processing up to 35,000 lessons in one year.
Each course of 12-15 lessons had a study sheet, which students completed and mailed in for comment and correction. The instructors often added individual encouragement and Bible counseling.
At the end of each course, students received a signed certificate of achievement. Maloney received more than 300 of these certificates from Bible correspondence course organizations.
“I was very proud of those certificates,” Maloney said. “I kept very busy completing courses… . These courses were essentially my Sunday school, since I grew up in a home which didn’t actively practice Christianity.”
When Maloney’s house burned, he found some of the scorched certificates among the ruins and decided to replace them.
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