We have had a couple of exciting and busy days here at Ignite Your Faith Ministries, going to give you a full report on the WALK OF FLAME very soon, but first I want to tell you all about our visit to the prison yesterday and how God is working to open the doors even wider.
We had been told this was a kids prison, which turned out to be a little misleading as we had thought young kids. It turned out that it was 110 young men ages 16-18, more teens and young adults, but still young people. Sorry for any confusion this has caused.
Pastor Moise, Reynaldo, Matthew, Jimitry, Manel and I headed into the prison not knowing what we would find or what the conditions would be. When we arrived, we had to go through all the preliminaries you would expect to find at a prison. We showed our ID’s, gave them our authorization letter, had our phones and bags checked and so on. Finally we get inside and are told “sorry we have a police training going on, the boys can’t leave the dorms.” YIKES! at first, we were afraid the whole thing was off! However, we just prayed and waited to see what would happen.
Finally, the guard came and took us all back to the dorm rooms! We actually got to go deep inside and see how the boys were living, which was quite an experience for us all. They took us to a hallway and brought out the guys 38 at a time and had them all stand there in the hallway. They told us to go ahead, but to keep the guys quiet. We were told at the start that we only had 2-3 minutes.
We decide to stick to our planned agenda and hope for more time. Pastor Moise went first, he talked to the young men about having hope, and they didn’t stop us. I went next and did a few of my magic tricks, the guys loved, the guards didn’t stop us. Then I shared the gospel; still they let us go on. My three main speaking points were 1)God created you 2) God loves you and 3) God has a plan for your life. At the end I tease that my next magic trick was going to be to make the guards disappear, the boys loved that and even the guards smiled.
We all had such a great time seeing these young guys smile. Even the younger guys on our team were having a blast as they helped hand out a little food, drinks and the laundry soap we had been asked to bring for the prisoners.
That was just 38 of the prisoners, we thought we might be stopped there, but they took those guys back to their dorms and brought out the second round of 38! We did our whole program again and then they brought out the last group; so we did it all again. Each session lasted about 30 minutes.
IT WAS AWSOME!
After we finished all three sessions the warden of the prison came in to meet us. A couple of minutes later he grabbed my arm and escorted me into one of the 16 bed units. First, let me say that I was really impressed by the level of care the boys were getting here. The boys seemed healthy, the place seemed maintained, the relationship between the guards and the boys seemed respectful. The room had 8 sets of bunk beds, so each guy had his own spot.
The warden asked the boys to move back, in case I was afraid, but I walked right into the middle of them. The warden then explained to me that each of the dorm rooms had a TV for the guys to watch soccer on, but the TV in this dorm was broken. He asked me, while standing there in front of these 16 young men, if I could bring a new tv for these boys. I looked around at their faces, each one silent, each one holding their breath, each one having just been told, by our team, that God loves them and to have hope. I realized this was a moment they would not soon forget, another let down or a real reason to have hope. How could I say no? So, I took a deep breath and a leap of faith and said “yes, we will get a TV for them”.
The whole dorm room erupted with cheers and applause!
The warden then took me to his office for a private meeting. He said our team was welcome to come back when we wanted to and asked about our plans. I asked if we could do an English class and he agreed. So, on July 11, we will be going in to start a twice a week English Language Program for the boys. We will also be teaching Bible lessons with the English. The warden even said to come by and hang out, watch some soccer with the boys and so on!
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We would never have had this incredible opportunity without your faithfulness. Because of you these young men and the prison staff are have heard the gospel and we will continue to have an open door to minister to them and be Jesus to them.