Prisoners Bible Institute's Director, Brad Gardner and his wife, Debra, have been married for 29 years. Both were saved in the late 1970's out of the drug culture. They both came from dysfunctional broken families. Brad gave his life to Christ in 1977, while in a Christian drug and alcohol rehab. Debra received Christ in her apartment while listening to a radio preacher in April of 1979 while in the midst of an abusive relationship. Brad and Debra met in 1979, in Pearland, Texas. After dating for three years by correspondence until his discharge from the Navy, they were married in December, 1982.
While working as a cabinet maker, Brad began attending weekend revivals in the Texas Department of Corrections. During this time, he began to feel God's leading to continue in prison ministry wherever the Lord would present opportunities. He held church services on Sunday evenings at the Darrington Unit Trusty camp for 21 years. Brad has also served as a volunteer on Texas Death Row for 4 years and at the Plane State Jail's women's facility from time to time for the past 10 years. He was licensed to preach in August, 2002, and ordained in July, 2005, by the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas.
Paul Carlin, the founder of Prisoners Bible Institute, turned the leadership of PBI over to Brad in June, 2005. Brad and Debra serve together bringing the Gospel's message of hope to the men and women incarcerated in Texas prisons. The Gardners currently enjoy being a part of the family of Southview Baptist Church in Rosharon, Texas, and have three children: Joshua, Amber and Barak, all blessings from the Lord. God's blessings have been on their family and the ministry of PBI for over 30 years. Together they look forward to carrying on this important work until the return of the Lord Jesus!
Special thanks go to Jeri Carlin, Brad Gardner's mother. Without her prayers and tireless work, Brad would not be alive and PBI would not have continued all these years.
Who we are
PBI is a prison revival/crusade ministry started in 1978 by Pastor Paul Carlin. Pastor Carlin, accompanied by many laymen from his church at the invitation of the Ellis II Unit's warden in Riverside, Texas, conducted the first lay-witness prison crusade ever held in a Texas prison. At that time it was unheard of for free world men to walk freely down the hallways of a prison, especially in such numbers as forty and fifty at a time. However, it was apparent that the Hand of God was on these fledgling attempts to reach the incarcerated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the concept behind PBI began to take form.
Many men who would never have dreamed of going into a prison became involved and saw the potential of this vast, un-harvested, mission field. Prison and jail ministries sprang up around Texas, started by counselors involved with PBI who "caught the vision," and began reaching out on their own. Today, more than fifteen Crusade Provider Ministries go into prisons all over Texas, and lay-witness weekends, or crusades, are now mandated by the state for every prison in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.
Pastor Carlin retired from prison evangelism in 2005, at which time he turned the administration of PBI over to Brad Gardner, who is an ordained minister and has been sharing the Gospel in the TDCJ for twenty-nine years. All the glory for these events belongs to the Lord, who has blessed beyond all that we could ask or think!
What we do
PBI conducts three-day weekend revivals at Units all over Texas. These revivals begin on Friday afternoon at the designated Unit with the counselors going to the dormitories and cell blocks for one-on-one time with the inmates. During this time, inmates are encouraged, prayed for and given solid Christian literature to help them with their walk with the Lord Jesus. Many first-time decisions have also been made during this one-on-one time with the prisoners. At the conclusion of this visitation, the call goes out for the church service, where all interested inmates are welcome to attend.
The service begins with worship music led by one of the worship teams that participates with PBI. This uplifting music service precedes the preaching of God's Word and the moving of The Holy Spirit in many hearts. During these revivals, we have seen some of the hardest criminals imaginable come to Christ with tears of joy and repentance streaming down their face. We then pray for and with the prisoners, offer correspondence Bible study courses at no charge for their continued growth, as well as take record of their names for follow-up by the Unit's chaplain. This visitation, church service, alter call schedule is followed once again on Saturday, and the crusade is then culminated with a Sunday morning service to conclude the weekend. Again, all the glory belongs to the Lord for the fruit of this ministry these many years. If you have any questions or are interested in participating in one of these weekend events, please feel free to contact us for more information.