On Saturday we went on our weekly trip to the prison with our team from church. While my husband and a couple of other men shared with a group of young guys, Ellie, a woman from our church with a huge heart for evangelism, and I went to show a film to the ladies. We sat in the porch area of the women’s section. It is here where they live out their daily lives sitting on mats with strings of washing along the side and something smoking on the cooking fire. In some ways the conditions are not so bad there, as they have running water with a tub and also toilets in the corner. There are houses I have visited in the area without those luxuries. Many of the women were nursing babies or had toddlers running around them.
I don’t know why they are there. Some reasons I have heard are for stealing a goat, for prostitution and many are detained simply because the police are trying to capture their husband or son. Usually one or two have undiagnosed mental illnesses.
Most of the women had gathered around to watch a movie (Magdalena, the story of Mary Magdalene) on my computer. Some chose to stay inside and not take part. As we showed the movie it was fascinating to see the reaction on their faces. Some are already Christians through the ministry of another church in town and you could see the smiles on their faces as they could see what God had done for them. One woman said a loud Amen at one point. She told me (in English!) afterwards that she was a Christian and came from another African country. As we saw Mary being delivered from demons there was a visible reaction from the women, like a longing for someone to set them free. Their hearts are crying out for deliverance! I found myself in tears, moved by the compassion of the Lord for these women.
As Ellie shared more with them after we finished the film, she also felt this compassion and was close to tears in her closing words. I don’t always feel in perfect harmony with Ellie, her personality is so different to mine. This particular day however, God’s compassion reached out through us and there we were, sitting together in the heart of God for these women.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1)
— Name withheld