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Spotlight: St. Athanasius Academy Prisoner Education Scholarships

From the February Newsletter of the St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology:

Dear Friend of St. Athanasius Academy,

My name is David, a graduate of the Academy and former prisoner. In the 60s, as a committed Evangelical Protestant Christian, I took a Gospel of John Bible class as a college freshman in San Francisco. Who would know 50 years later I would be helping an Orthodox Academy build a brand new study course for prisoners on the Gospel of John. Glory be to God.

This course is written from an Orthodox perspective, with research by St. Athanasius Academy, the home of the Orthodox Study Bible: Septuagint Old and New Testament. It is an in-depth, verse by verse, study of the Gospel of John, based upon the Apostles, Holy Scripture, and renown Fathers of the early Church – a true work of joy. Please help us make this available to prisoners.

Why is this important? I learned first hand how the Lord can use the cold, harsh reality of prison to guide a 25-year Protestant pastor to the spirit of Antioch, being Chrismated in 2000. Thank God for prison, where I found the Academy and began taking their Orthodox studies, earning my own Academy diploma. Though having previously earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in religion, my diploma, from the Academy, is my most precious document. It represents my being submerged and challenged by this two-thousand year-old faith, passed down, unchanged, through the Lord's One Church and His Apostles. This truth, with His grace, transformed my life.

Please know the empty loneliness of prison easily sways and leads prisoners astray. Sadly, this can quite often mean life destroying teachings, false gods, and violence. Yet there are many having hearts seeking the Lord, to guide and redeem their life. Thankfully the Academy is a most valued tool to bring the Light of Christ, and His promise of eternal life, to prisoners, “...I shall be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities, shall I remember no more." Heb. 8:12.

Thus the Lord calls each of us to help pass this glorious faith to the thousands seeking Him in prisons. They need this bright light of promise and comfort, to challenge and combat the many false religions that are exploiting precious lives. With the help of the Academy prisoners are discovering what is most needed – a lasting hope and sense of peace that will never leave them.

It is a real privilege to have this chance to give back to the Academy, for all they have given me. Please continue helping those who otherwise have no access to this pearl of great price. Become a partner of the Apostles Peter & Paul Prisoner Education/Scholarship Program. Learn more about the Prisoner Education Project here.

God bless you,

Christ Jesus' Servant for Prisoners, David Ekstedt