Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus I Come"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 25:37-40 – Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?" And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (NKJV)
One of the life-changing opportunities that I have had on mission trips to Nicaragua is to visit some of the prisons there. Going there each time has had a profound effect on me spiritually and emotionally. We go with a local pastor who visits and cares for these men and women, and many of them have found Christ and are now Christians. This pastor is a man of God with such a heart for Jesus, and he just shines. He is not a rich man, and in fact, sometimes, he can hardly afford the gas to drive there. He is supported by a small church in rural Ontario, Canada.
The inmates' families have to supply their loved ones with toilet paper and some of the food each day, so on our visits, we brought bottles of soda pop, bananas, and toilet paper for everyone. At the first prison that we went to, I stayed out and organized into little bags the pop and supplies that we had brought, while others ministered and prayed with some of the men and women. Then as a whole group, we went down the ramp into the darker area of the jail. There is a hierarchy of order in the cells, so we were told to give the supplies to each cell boss, and he or she would reach out, take the bags, and give them to their cell mates.
The prison was very overcrowded with 25 to 30 men in one cell but only four to six beds. The beds had springs but no mattresses. There were five cells in that jail, and one of the cells was for the women. They sleep on the dirty floors, and if they are lucky, a piece of cardboard. If the prison allows it, we can and do bring the milk bag mats for them to sleep on. In that jail, there was no exercise yard. Some of the men are tattooed, and there is a smell of human sweat and other odours in the air. We received catcalls and were obviously a form of entertainment in their dreary existence. We smiled at them and went around to each cell handing out the supplies.
When we were done handing out the gifts that we had brought, before we departed, we got together as a group of women and started to sing God's praises to the men and women in that place. Almost instantly, the noise stopped, and we could all feel the presence of God as we sang in harmony and in a round the words, Father, Jesus, Spirit, I adore You, Lay my life before You, How I love You.
Simple words, but oh! so powerful. The Holy Spirit was with us, protecting us and guiding us. As we sang praises to our King, a holy hush fell on that dirty jail. Into that dark jail, we brought more of God's light. It was already there, but it shone brighter that day because we had visited.
Is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone and go into the darkness?
Prayer: Father, our hearts are full of tears for the brokenness in us all and for our need of Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour. We give thanks for those who witness to prisoners and bring them the good news of our hope in Jesus Christ. May more of us answer Your call to mission, which leads us into places where You are needing us to go. Amen.