A Light in the Darkest Place

Very seldom does a ministry come along that captures my heart like Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry. With all the groups in our world that label themselves “Christian,” Mt. Nebo is a breath of fresh air. The difference? A clear, non-compromising commitment to God’s Word. That’s what sets Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry apart. This ministry drives prisoners into the Word of God, and that’s something that is very dear to my heart. I have spent most of my life in a relentless pursuit of knowing what the Bible says. And for over fifty years I have dedicated myself to preaching the Bible and nothing else. So Mt. Nebo’s loyalty to the truth is something that has thrilled my heart from the first moment I met Chuck Holmes.”

—John MacArthur

Chuck Holmes
Founder/Director, Mt Nebo Prison Ministry

I experienced a radical change in July of 1989 that took me from decades of bondage to drugs, alcohol, racism, violence, and numerous prison sentences, to being a lover of Jesus. I was converted on a jailhouse floor, and the vision for Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry (MNPM) began to take shape in 1990 in that prison cell at Perryville Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. The next year, Mt. Nebo was adopted into the mission program of Redemption Church (formerly East Valley Bible Church) in Gilbert, Arizona. Through the ministry, books and Bibles were sent to prisoners throughout the country and supplemented with one-on-one correspondence with the inmates who received them. Then we started receiving requests from out of state—New Mexico and then Texas—and from other states as the word spread.

Today, Mt. Nebo offers any inmate who completes the thirteen-chapter Fundamentals of the Faith workbook a new MacArthur Study Bible. As a result, thousands of Study Bibles are sent to state and federal prisoners each year, and MNPM has become the largest distributor of the English MacArthur Study Bible in the world.

In April 2014, Mt. Nebo expanded still further, and Transformados was created as a joint venture of Grace Church and Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry to provide materials for the large Spanish-speaking inmate population. Transformados seeks to reach Spanish-speaking inmates by providing both Fundamentals of the Faith and, upon completion of FOF, a MacArthur Study Bible, in Spanish.

For many of these men and women, whether they speak English or Spanish, the Study Bible is their sole resource for growing in the grace and knowledge of our Savior. It is their library in one book, and God uses it in profound ways in so many lives.

In the past five years, we have seen a growing number of faith programs initiated within prisons. They are typically year-long programs where men are exposed to the gospel and Christian teaching. Mt Nebo materials (FOF and MacArthur Study Bibles) have become a prerequisite for many of these programs. We now receive requests from chaplains and volunteers for dozens, even hundreds, of workbooks at a time for large classes to work through together.

Yet, beyond even the workbooks and Study Bibles, inmates are also provided with the opportunity to read many biblically based books through the generous book donations from Grace to You. As just a single book in prison is often passed through dozens of hands and hearts before it falls apart, these books prove to be invaluable tools for reaching prison populations and growing new believers within them.

Though the ministry has seen changes over the past twenty-seven years, its purpose remains the same: to be a resource used by God with a clear, uncompromising stand for Scripture and the gospel. As Pastor MacArthur writes in a letter posted on the Mt. Nebo website, “The prisons are a tremendous mission field. My hope is that you will be gripped by the potential that prisons offer for the spread of the gospel and the building up of the saints. . . .Mt. Nebo gives prisoners what they need most—the truth that is found only in God’s Word.”

For more information about Mt. Nebo Prison Ministry, visit mnpm.org; for more information about Transformados, visit gracechurch.org/transformados.