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Prison Ministry Changes Lives in Trinidad

Evangelism Explosion Graduation

Evangelism Explosion Graduation

Evangelism Explosion Graduation

For the last four years in Trinidad and Tobago, criminal activity has escalated with some 595 persons being murdered in 2008. It was in such an environment that in December 2006 a ‘handful’ of brethren along with Pastor Clifton Charles and Sister Pearl Charles became partners with Prison Fellowship Trinidad and Tobago to reach out to the incarcerated. For some of us in that ‘handful’, there was fear and uncertainty, we did not even want our families to know because all of us were either impacted or knew someone who was affected by crime. But, we believed that the Holy Spirit guides our pastor and we followed even though we didn’t understand where God was leading us. We are amazed as we look back how through that small beginning, God has supernaturally blessed this ministry and transformed the lives of many inmates and how they in turn have ministered to us.

Christmas at Women's Prison

Father's Day 2009 at Maximum Security Prison

Sports at Maximum Security Prison

Today, we no longer have only a ‘handful’. Almost everyone is on board. We have teams in the Women’s Prison, Maximum Security Prison and Golden Grove Prison all of whom conduct Prison Evangelism and Discipleship Programmes. Initially, all our programmes were church funded. Today, many of our brethren now give generously to support this ministry to the incarcerated. The Holy Spirit has turned the hearts of many in our congregation from one of indifference to wholehearted involvement. This is most evident at Christmas time when everyone is mobilized to source gifts which are presented to over five hundred children of inmates. The gifts are taken into the prison where parents give them to their children. One member, a school teacher has for the last three years used the occasion as a project in three classes where each student brings a gift. She has said that she cannot believe the excitement her students display in knowing that the gifts are to be given to children of prisoners. At Christmas time also, as well as for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day, food and toiletry hampers are prepared at our church building in Arima for distribution to the families of inmates. Many of our little children and elderly diligently come and assist in packing hundreds of hampers for distribution.

In addition, when the Lord brought us alongside Prison Fellowship, there was no money in the Bank Account to fund the programmes. In fact, we had a number of creditors with no money to pay them. With the institution of a proper management and accounting system God has blessed and continues to bless this ministry with many corporate donors and well wishers. In addition, in 2008, the lease for the building occupied by Prison Fellowship was not renewed and up to this day the Offices of Prison Fellowship has been temporarily located at our church facilities in Arima. This has resulted in a annual savings of US$4000.00.

Undoubtedly though, the greatest blessing has been to see lives transformed. Very often, we are filled with tears to hear the testimonies of inmates and how when there was no hope, the Gospel has given them every reason to live and encourage their children and family members. And oh, how our lives have been changed through this ministry.

As I end, I am reminded of the scripture in the opening verses of Habakkuk 1 when the prophet complained to God that there was violence everywhere and that he had to watch all the misery. Then God told him ..I AM GOING TO DO SOMETHING IN YOUR OWN DAY, SOMETHING YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE, EVEN IF SOMEONE TOLD YOU ABOUT IT.

Never in our wildest dreams and imagination did we ever think that God would use us to carry the Gospel into the prison where even to this day not many people have a desire to go. What a joy it is to work where the Lord is working.