From Gangs To Discipleship: Abe’s Story Of Redemption With The Urban Ministry Institute

World Impact’s Church-Based Seminary training, The Urban Ministry Institute, introduces Jesus to impoverished communities, igniting impactful discipleship and service.

These aren’t the words of a pastor serving in the hood, but those of an individual serving a long sentence behind bars:

“We plant churches, we’re feeding the homeless, building a community with other churches. We are expanding God’s kingdom together.”

As a result of World Impact’s Church-Based Seminary, Abe experienced an incredible transformation in his life. 

Abe’s Story of Redemption With The Urban Ministry Institute

In an environment where involvement in gangs was commonplace, life was a constant battle against fear and the struggle to survive. The streets molded an image of Abe as someone to be feared and respected. 

Engaging in activities such as selling drugs and participating in criminal actions, he found himself in a role that offered guidance and leadership within the community. His partner-in-crime was none other than his brother Tim, and together, they faced the world head-on. 

Tragedy struck when Tim was killed, thrusting upon Abe the responsibility of being a source of comfort and support for others.

Descent into Darkness and Incarceration

In search of identity and purpose, he ventured down paths that eventually led to his imprisonment. A 30-year sentence awaited him behind bars, burdening me with the weight of guilt and remorse for his actions. A belief that the world would be better off without him took root, exacerbated by Abe’s grim reality of life in prison. Thoughts of suicide clouded his mind as he sank into a sense of worthlessness, convinced that he had nothing to offer anyone.

A Glimmer of Hope from World Impact

Amid the darkness, an unexpected glimmer of hope emerged. A Bible caught his attention, and with nothing left to lose, he began reading its pages. This seemingly simple act ignited a spark within him, challenging his beliefs and opening the door to the possibility of redemption and transformation.

Reintroduction to the outside world came through the intervention of World Impact’s seminary-level ministry. Brothers Ryan and Darren entered Abe’s life, speaking a language that resonated deeply with his experiences. Their message emphasized embracing the most challenging and darkest places to share the love of Christ, a concept that struck a chord within Abe.

Learn how churches can improve a prisoner’s re-entry into the outside world

Empowerment Through Training

The empowerment Abe received from World Impact marked a significant turning point. These mentors urged Abe to break free from the constraints of his past and envision a future beyond his perceived limitations. Their guidance instilled in him the belief that he could have a positive impact, not only on his own life but also on those around him.

The Church-Based Seminary provides seminary-level education designed for urban leaders. The seminary-level training equips urban church leaders with contextualized training, and it is designed for men and women in communities experiencing poverty. It provides affordable, accessible, and effective training for church leaders and lay leaders. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. First, we partner with churches, organizations, or denominations to identify emerging leaders. 
  2. Then, we establish centers for learning. 
  3. Students complete their training and certification.
  4. Graduates champion renewal and spiritual growth in their communities.

Together, we are wholly committed to revitalizing the urban church and empowering urban leaders in communities experiencing poverty.

Get Seminary-Level Training

Are you interested in your church or ministry benefiting from an affordable, accessible, and effective leadership training program? Teachers determine which of the three curricula will best fit your equipping needs.

Here are the list of requirements to bring World Impact’s Church-Based Seminary to your ministry:

  • Christian leaders eager to receive biblical training
  • Site Coordinator: An individual committed to coordinating the program within your ministry
  • Mentor: An individual to facilitate the leadership development process (can be the Site Coordinator or an additional volunteer)
  • Complete partner application 
  • Complete program application upon acceptance as World Impact partner
  • Read the guidebook to administering your Church-Based Seminary: Multiplying Laborers for the the Urban Harvest (est. $10-$60)
  • Pay the annual site license fee
  • Affirm World Impact’s Statement of Faith
  • Access World Impact U’s Orientation Learning Path
  • After completing the application and orientation, your site will be licensed to begin training your leaders!

For Abe, he was offered seminary-level classes within the prison, which served as a catalyst for his faith and his commitment to service. Other places World Impact often sees training centers are in churches or local ministries. 

Would you like to learn more about the many ways that church-based seminary training can benefit your church or ministry? Learn more about Church-Based Seminary on the World Impact website.

Discovering Purpose Within Prison Walls

Fellowship with fellow incarcerated residents brought newfound purpose. Through shared encouragement and collaborative learning, the students applied the teachings they had received. The remarkable aspect was that the transformation was not initiated by external forces but by the collective efforts to empower each other from within. Initiatives like church planting, aiding the homeless, and fostering a sense of community extended beyond prison walls, embodying empowerment and restoration.

A quote from an incarcerated resident who has experienced God’s transformation and the power of a faith community—from behind bars: “We plant churches, we’re feeding the homeless, building a community with other churches…expanding God's kingdom… Share on X

Transformation Beyond Self

The training underwent was more than a mere curriculum; it became a catalyst for transformation extending far beyond what Abe ever expected. It ignited a desire to positively impact others, enabling him to help fellow prisoners break free from the cycle of crime and violence, just as he had done. 

World Impact’s decision to invest in a man burdened by a past marred with mistakes and pain was a pivotal moment. The camaraderie and empowerment he experienced through the ministry allowed Abe to rebuild his life, evolving into a better father, husband, brother, son, and friend. 

This journey solidified the understanding that transformation originates from within, radiating outward to reshape not only individual lives but entire communities.

Discover: How Can Those Who are Incarcerated Learn More About God?

A Testament to Empowerment

Abe’s story stands as a testament to the impact of redemptive poverty work and the emphasis on educating individuals who are eager for transformation—no matter their location. 

From Abe’s days entrenched in the world of crime to his present role as a disciple and mentor, his life epitomizes the potential of embracing redemption to redefine one’s path and contribute to a brighter collective future.

Meet Abe and hear his powerful story of going from gangs to discipleship below. 

A World With Affordable and Effective Training

Picture a world where those who are incarcerated like Able have access to Gospel-centered, affordable, and effective training—made for urban ministry—anywhere and anytime they need it. 

That’s the world we want to create, and this is your chance to be a part.

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