Prison ministry bears fruit
A prison ministry in Recife, Brazil, that Latin Link member Paul Crothers helps with is seeing young people come to faith.
‘Praise God that one young guy last month accepted Christ as his Saviour while we were with him,’ reports Paul. ‘In addition, one of the young guys who has been recently released had been in touch to see if he could come to visit our church. Lives are being changed.’
Every other Sunday afternoon two groups set out from the local church that Paul attends. One visits the only female detention centre in Recife, while the other group travels to one of the numerous male centres in the city.
‘It is an incredible opportunity we have been given to witness, challenge, console and love these young people who have sadly found themselves in conflict with the law,’ says Paul. ‘Many of those in the boys’ centre we visit are aged between 12 and 17. Most have been incarcerated because of petty crime, drug trafficking or anti-social behaviour, though a few are there for more serious crimes, including murder. Losing your freedom and being removed from your home environment undoubtedly has a tremendous impact on your life. So it is great to bring some hope, life and truth into their young lives.’
A typical visit to the boys’ centre consists of a fortnightly visit of a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. It includes a worship time, a message, a time of prayer in groups of two or three, a snack, and then a time at the end just to chat with the boys. For any who decide not to attend the service or are not permitted to, a small group of the team will visit them and pray for them.
Recently, though, the church was granted a special opportunity to visit and spend most of the day at the boys’ centre. The day began with a worship service, which consisted of some worship songs, a short message and a drama piece. ‘Then we organised some different team games with various challenges involved,’ says Paul. ‘After lunch (cooked by members of the team) for the boys and the staff we organised a football tournament. Within the centre the boys are segregated by “houses” with between 10–12 in each house. So for the games and football tournament, it was house against house to find a winner!’
Little did the boys know that while they were out doing the activities, one of the team, Davi, and four of his friends were creating graffiti inside the ‘houses’ as a surprise for the boys. Paul comments: ‘The graffiti consists of various messages of peace and encouragement, and about God’s love and faithfulness. The idea was simply to leave something that the boys can visualise and remember each and every day, reminding them of Jesus and his love for them, and also to help them in their daily lives.’
- Pray that the boy who accepted Jesus last month: pray that there will be a true change in his heart and life and that Paul and his fellow church members can provide the encouragement and support he needs in his newfound faith.
- Pray for the boy who has recently been released and has expressed interest in coming to church. Pray that he follows through on his interest and receives a warm welcome and that he finds Jesus.
- Pray for the on-going work of Paul’s local church in the detention centres.