In this article, we hear from one volunteer who felt unprepared for the challenge of prison ministry but relied on God to give her the right words. Schani Wong (East Asia Pacific) shares her story of receiving a powerful picture of freedom in the most poignant place:
I was nervous when the pastor of the church we are partnering with took us along to a women's prison. When they heard we were coming, the inmates were very rowdy. I told my team I didn't feel prepared for this. As we were coming to the end of the programme, I was put on the spot when the leader asked me to share the message of the gospel through the tool of the paper cross. I was reluctant, but I took a piece of paper and began to fold it and tear it, explaining the story of how God redeems our lives.
A commotion developed. Everyone was screaming and shouting; looking out of the window. We saw that two young women were being released from the jail at that very moment. The room lost all control and nobody was paying attention. I stopped speaking as I just didn’t know how to continue and get people to listen again. I prayed to God for help.
As the chaos subsided, God put something in my heart and I was able to say to the women, “I see how happy you are; cheering for your friends who are getting released and gaining their freedom. I know you are looking forward to that for yourself.” A few girls began to cry.
But I said, “This freedom and happiness is only temporary. The only happiness that lasts forever – the truest freedom you can enjoy forever – is in Christ.” I spoke to them about not giving up and that it is ok to have a shameful past, because everything is new in Christ and you can have new hope in Him. By now, most of the room was in tears.
The pastor who brought us to the jail ended our session by inviting the inmates to pray a prayer of repentance and accept the salvation that Jesus offers. They were crying and praying so sincerely. I could see that God was indeed at work: in them and through us. It was an amazing moment where I experienced God speaking through me when I didn’t know what to do, and I thank God for the souls that accepted Him that day.
Published: Monday, 20 May 2019
Credit: Schani Wong / Julie Knox