With the school year coming to a close, 103 student’s lives
have been changed forever. 2011 will mark the year that they came to know Jesus
Christ through a program they signed up for at — believe it or not — their
Out of 450 students, 103 have made professions of faith
since four Released Time Bible Education programs were started in February in Bladen
County. Four programs in four
months have opened doors for 450 students to hear about the Bible.
A multi-state organization called School Ministries
(www.schoolministries.org) partnered with Jason Williams, pastor of Bethel
in Dublin and North
Carolina coordinator for the ministry, to begin its
first Released Time Bible Education programs in North
Carolina this year. Williams has helped with this
ministry in other states as well.
What is a Released Time Bible Education (www.releasedtime.org)
Volunteers can offer the program to students who will leave
school grounds to study the Bible during their school hours. Students must have
their parents’ permission to participate, and volunteers transport students
from the school to the program’s location off campus. At Bladenboro Primary
where Williams has been active leading a program, students are transported in
buses to Dublin First
for their Bible lesson, then transported back for the rest of their regular
There are no laws in North Carolina
that prohibit a program like this from starting as long as it is conducted off
school grounds and has the school board’s approval. Other factors that a
program needs include transportation for the students, a location for the Bible
education time, liability insurance, volunteers and church community support.
Usually, schools will allow students to have Released Time Bible Education
during their elective or enrichment class time.
“To have a great work we have to have great volunteers,”
Each volunteer serves in an area compatible with their
desire and giftedness whether it be driving, teaching, counseling, keeping
attendance records, etc. “We look to make sure we are putting our volunteers in
the right places,” he said.
With an organization like School Ministries, churches can
find the resources they need to get a program started.
Program leaders can find curriculum as well as valuable
advice and support on how to run a program. Williams describes the Bible
education curriculum as a character based study that ties the roots of the
character back to Jesus. “Our first goal was to establish the character of
obedience,” he said. Through the story of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in
Genesis, “we started there, interjecting the gospel.”
And through these Bible lessons, scripture is finding its
way into the homes of students. “The church is being able to take the gospel
home to families in a quicker legal way,” Williams said.
“If I reach one unchurched kid for Christ, and they go home
and reach their family, then our work has multiplied,” he said. Many of the
students that are being reached through Released Time are kids from families
that have no church home or involvement. When students first sign up to
participate, they are asked if they have a church. For students who are
unchurched, it’s important to start connecting them with a church near them.
“We have a guy at church who started coming for his kids. Then,
he realized he needed it (Christ) too,” said Williams about the church he
While every situation is different and costs will vary
depending on many factors for each program, overall “cost is very inexpensive
for the opportunity,” Williams said.
“The cost is much less than what it would cost a church” to
run a program on it’s own.
So much of the success that School Ministries has seen in Bladen
County since February is a result
of the nature of the opportunity. There are 1.3 million public school students
in North Carolina.
The nature of the program is about bringing Christ to a
central location and community where there is the potential to reach entire
families, said Williams.
“When you can win kids for Christ you can often win the
family. So, this ministry is for the family,” he said.
Williams and School Ministries, Inc. want to start four new
programs a year in North Carolina
schools as they campaign to raise $100,000 to cover start up costs.
The campaign’s initiative is to find 1,000 people to
contribute $100 each.
While some have contributed $5 and others $500 in the past
couple of months, they are still currently in need of about 880 people.
Williams said, “We take that money and put it into helping
programs start. We help offset the cost so that funds don’t slow the process.”
Contact Jason Williams at (910) 549-0661 or