Fernando and Ireri are missionaries and pastors who lead one of the largest prison ministries in Mexico. Their ministry brings the Word of God to 6 prisons in Mexico City and the State of Mexico where more than 10,000 people are incarcerated.
Fernando and Ireri took very different paths to where they are today. Ireri was raised in a Christian home with a long tradition of ministry work; her mother was a renowned missionary in Mexico who was known for her hard work and love for the Lord. But Fernando lived a life that he describes as messy and empty. “I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know if there is life after this,” he says.
Eventually, Fernando received salvation and they were married. They lived what seemed like a typical Christian life; they were active in a local church, their children were involved. But the Lord called them to more.
During a church service, a man who was recently released from prison gave his testimony. As he listened, Fernando’s passion for prisoners was ignited. Before he knew the Lord, Fernando had been arrested. He had spent time behind bars and knew firsthand that people there needed to learn about Christ.
“That was the spark we needed,” he says of that testimony. “I was in church, we did courses, we served, we were active. My children were on the praise team, we were in marriage meetings. We were active, but there is one thing: the Lord gives you a purpose beyond what you have imagined. He says, ‘At this point, you have already completed and passed this test. I need you in another place.’”
Fernando accompanied his church’s prison ministry on their next visit and, to his surprise, collected more than 40 prayer requests. He passed them on to his wife who diligently prayed for each one and wrote a letter in response. “She used to write up to 100 letters a week,” he remembers.
“It’s incredible how the Lord can put such a great love in us as He has for humanity, that we can love people who committed crimes,” Fernando says. “Many of them did horrible things, yet you can see men transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. You can see the new creature that is born again, and that old things passed away and became new for them.”
Fernando and Ireri’s hearts desire to see transformed lives, and to see men and women in prison begin to live out their callings. They use Bible League’s Freedom Bible and Project Philip Bible studies to help prisoners discover the truth of the Gospel and their purpose beyond prison. “How will you allow the Lord to tell you, ‘these are the talents I gave you to develop?’ Maybe you have mercy, but you don’t develop it because they don’t allow it when you’re locked up,” Fernando says.
But they are doing more than that; they are reaching entire families. “When a person goes into prison, not only the person falls, but the whole family falls. The spouse, the parents, the children, but what happens then? We minister to them through the Bible League materials. And just as the family entered the prison, so the family also comes together to learn about the Lord and embrace the faith,” he says.
Fernando and Ireri recognize the enormous spiritual need for the Word of God in their country’s prisons. They are grateful to Bible League for providing effective tools to help people understand God’s Word. “Some of these people have never held a Bible in their hands, and they are curious to see that it says Freedom Bible with a picture of a prisoner,” Fernando says. “The language makes people interested in reading and that is how God touches their hearts.”
The couple pours out gratitude to the Bible League supporters who are helping them reach thousands. “To you joyful givers: You have no idea what you are doing or how you are participating in the spread of the Kingdom of God,” he says. “We thank God very much for your lives and participation in this ministry; perhaps you have never entered prison, but I want to tell you that what you do touches hearts and blesses many people.”