It all started in 1990 in Mongu, Western Zambia where I was working. I was very young and had just started being serious in my Christian walk and attended church every Sunday while also attending other Church activities. It was fun and all quiet until I started chatting with one guy in the Church. I think his name was Ruben (I can’t believe I have forgotten his name!)
Ruben was a policeman and also the Chaplain of the local prison. One day I told him I would like to visit the prison with him the next time he visited and he said no problem. I had never been to a prison before, let alone a simple police station so I was shaking when we went to the female section of the Mongu prison. I do not remember much from that first time except the following:
1) Ruben played the guitar and the inmates and I sang along
2) I was wearing a red and white dress – funny enough this is the most vivid memory I have of that time.
Ruben encouraged me to continue with prison work which I did. When I moved to Lusaka, the Zambian capital city, I continued working with inmates. An unspoken rule when doing this work was that we did not ask inmates what they were in for. Some was for having a scuffle with someone and hurting them in the process. Others were in for murder, done in self-defense or cold blood. It did not matter what they did, all that mattered was that they were in prison and they were ministered to.
Non-Christians were ministered to only with physical assistance, eg. food, soap, etc. I realized that even though inmates were from different religious backgrounds and did not believe in the Saviour that I believed in, they still had physical needs like mine and needed them satisfied. To me, Prison Ministry was not just for spreading the Word of God but also for helping in other ways because the golden rule from Matthew 7:12 says “…. do unto others what you would have them do to you…”. I would hope that someone from another religion will help me in my time of need without trying to convert me to their religion.
All together I worked with inmates for about fifteen years. up to about 2004. After all these years, I still miss prison work. What do you miss doing?