Today our friend Raysem brought us to the Bohol District Jail to share in the ministry he has with the 362 inmates from across the provence. I was a little more relaxed this time around with the whole jail thing, but still had no idea what we were walking into. I am learning not to ask questions, but rather just let things unfold. We ended up riding in a pick up truck down a bumpy dirt road to a very inviting prison (if there can be such a thing) with flower gardens, an art gallery, library and barber shop. As we walked into the main courtyard a band began playing and all the men came out of the cells and began dancing and singing in unison to welcome us. We were stunned as our family was escorted to the seats of honor.
They proceeded to put on a program for us that included ethnic dancing and choreographed numbers. Raysem told us the lyrics were, "there is always hope" and "the power of the cross". Way better than Michael Jackson. I was undone and crying behind my sunglasses, moved by the stories of redemption before my eyes. I could sense the Lord's pleasure and deep love for these men.
Next they turned the mic over to "foreign brother Jason" to share God's word. Some men came close to listen and the rest hung out in their cells. Jason preached an awesome message about the father- wound and how to have a relationship with our heavenly father. In the end he had the men put their hands on their hearts and he prayed for healing and wholeness.
After sharing we passed out gifts to the prisoners of drinks, snacks, soap and toothpaste. It was family day and there were lots of kids visiting their dads, of course some people never have a single visitor.
I loved walking from cell to cell, talking with the famlies and hearing a piece of their story. Life is hard in the prison, but equally hard for the woman who carry on without their husbands for 10- 20 years. I was struck by how easy it was for us to walk into the prison for a one time experience, but for these people this was their unchanging reality.
As we were leaving a guard gave Jason a painting he'd made called "Shield of Love " with this message written on the back "I was on the rooftop multi- purpose listening to you. . . when you prayed to God, the Father on our behalf . . . when you prayed to him to get rid of the wounds in our hearts left by our genetic fathers. I'm fine now. Thank you very much" Our hearts continue to be in awe at the power of God's love.