Prison ministry in Ntaja, Malawi is reaching out to prisoners and guards alike; planting seeds and bearing fruit.
“I started (prison ministry) after I was arrested,” said Francis nonchalantly. “I saw a big need for prayer. I felt like I had died because I was in jail. Like people wouldn’t like me, or come see me, or speak to me.”
“But I remembered Paul and Silas in jail. So I said, ‘this has happened because no one goes and encourages (the people) in prison.’ That same day I started teaching the people in jail and sharing the word of God.”
When he was released the next morning (because it had been nothing more than a misunderstanding), Francis began talking to local leaders and asking for the local chief’s blessing on a prison ministry. With permission granted, Francis began going weekly to the prison to pray and share the Word of God.
Not just for the prisoners
Peggy joined the ministry in 2015 when she arrived in Malawi from Zambia to do her teaching practicum.
“In Zambia I used to go for prison ministry,” she shared. “When I first came here I was involved in the women’s ministry, but I wasn’t doing it passionately with all my heart because I was doing things I wasn’t shaped for. Prison ministry is what I’m shaped for, so I joined.”
At first while she was sharing with the men, only one guard remained to keep order.
“One time when I was sharing on Isaiah 18, I saw the guards coming, seven of them, and it scared me,” admitted Peggy. “The police officer in charge and all the police officers surrounded me to listen. Now whenever I go there they come to listen.”
Kelvin hung out with the wrong crowd. He and a friend were arrested after a third friend stole wooden planks and disappeared. The two were to be kept in jail unless the third friend was caught, or they paid for the wood, which they could not afford.
Put in a holding cell to await trial, Kelvin began feeling like he was alone in the world. His family didn’t know he was in prison and he had no way of contacting them.
When the guard called the prisoners to go listen to visitors who wanted to share about Jesus, the men refused; saying they had not eaten in days and how could they listen when they were so hungry? Feeling he needed something to give him hope, Kelvin went forward thinking maybe this was it.
Peggy and Taiwan, (Swaziland), both teachers at the OM Malawi Chiyembekezo School, told Kelvin about the love of Christ. Afterward, Kelvin shared how he had come to be in prison and how he was faring. The women asked the guards if they could bring him some bread and began bringing Kelvin food daily which he shared with the other people in his cell. In Malawi, it is up to family and friends to bring their incarcerated friend food. If no one brings food, the inmate will do without.
The police confirmed that Kelvin was being held because of what his friend had done, not because of anything he did.
The women got to know Kelvin better and shared more about the Bible.
“The way Christians behave and the way [others] behave is different,” said Kelvin. “No [person] did what Peggy and Taiwan did for me. They were bringing me food every day. (I saw) that the God that the Christians believe in is a living God, that’s when I said I need to believe in this God.”
When Kelvin’s hearing date arrived, the judge ruled that Kelvin and his friend could go once they each paid 7,000 Kwacha to replace the stolen wood, which Peggy and Taiwan felt led to contribute.
Taking the men back to the OM base they offered them lunch, a shower and clean clothes--luxuries the men had done without while imprisoned.
Returning home Kelvin told his family about his experience and new-found faith. Peggy visited and found the family thankful for the kindness that had been shown to their son. Saying Kelvin was free to believe in whatever he wanted, they offered their support when Peggy suggested Kelvin attend Discipleship training in Ntaja.
Kelvin finished the first two months of Discipleship in Ntaja and is now on practicals.
Praise God for the testimony of Kelvin! Pray that he continues to grow in his faith and seek the Lord. Pray for seeds of hope to be planted in the prison and that not only the prisoners will be impacted, but the guards as well.