I have never been to a prison before. I so admire people who do prison ministry, but the thought of it scares me to death. I think mainly because I wouldn’t know what to say or do and I am afraid I would say or do the wrong thing. So the way the Lord gets me to reach out to those who are imprisoned is to bring me to Africa, put me in a prayer/fellowship group of women who go at least once a year. The words “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Mt 25:45) kept going through my head. So I graciously accepted the invitation to go. I was nervous at the first thought of it, but I went with a deep sense of peace.
The prison is nestled in the hills out in the countryside of
There were about 60 women. All were dressed in a burnt orangeish-brown dress uniform. (Pants are generally not acceptable dress for women in
We had our worship and fellowship in the dining hall. When we entered it, everyone was sitting patiently at the tables. There were guards sitting around the perimeter. The room was simple, with a high pitched ceiling and furniture that was anchored to the floor. The room had windows on three sides. The room was spotless. You could have eaten off of the floor. We brought in boxes and bags full of cakes, cookies, individual size bags of chips as well as individual bags each containing a washcloth, soap, Vaseline (for their skin) and a little booklet with a testimony about turning one’s life over to Christ. We also had stuffed animals and baby clothes for the children.
After we got everything situated, we started singing praise songs. The prisoners led the singing. As I watched the prisoners and guards joining in praise and worship, singing and dancing I could hardly contain my tears. The joy on many of the women’s hearts was overwhelming. The dancing of some of the guards and the warden is something you would just have to see to believe. We sang a couple of American praise songs and a couple of Christmas carols. There were a couple of testimonies and a short scripture reading with a sermon of sorts. When we were finished, the ladies came in a line to receive their gifts and so we could give each one of them a hug. Then they got plates and piled them high with cakes and cookies. And then it was quiet.
The women were so genuinely happy to have the time to worship. I think they were probably also so eager for that personal touch – the hug with the few simple words of “God Bless you.” It was so hard not to cry. I enjoyed receiving each and every hug as much as I enjoyed giving them. We were there for probably 2 ½ hours. In black
I thought we would have some one on one time with the women, which not only frightened me because I wasn’t sure what I would say, but I was looking forward to it. We didn’t really have that one on one time, but the time we shared in song, dancing and worship was so precious. I wish you could see the video that is stored in my brain and in my heart. This was just one more day that I felt so honoured to be in
Praise be to God!