December 21, 2012

Facing the Giants in Prison

One of the highlights of my week is the ministry to the the kids at the youth prison.  Okay, I say kids, but these are young men.  Most are about 16, but they range from 14 to 18 years old.  A few look like what you'd expect--hardened, sneaky, up to something.  But most look like scared little boys.  Heartbreaking.

Some of them ask us for basic things, things we'd like to share.  Things like clothes or shoes or food.  I have brought food, but I've insisted (nicely) that it be eaten while we're there.  

The other possibility is that the food item or the t-shirt or those flip flops get sold for money to buy drugs, or just traded directly.  It's just the reality.  With that in mind, we try to find more practical ways to reach out to them, and we ask God for wisdom and discernment.

A few of them get visitors, most don't.  So when they are expecting us to show up for our weekly time together and we don't, that's not cool.

This past Friday, I learned that the ministry group who has been letting me tag along with them had another commitment, so they wouldn't be going.  This was a double whammy because one of them had promised the boys we'd have a sort of early Christmas party with a movie on our next visit.  I found out the night before that this wouldn't take place, so Ken and I started scrambling to work it out.

The pastor who usually goes was still available, as was another missionary in town, so we made plans to pick up the missionary and meet the pastor there.  Ken and I loaded up the dvd player, an extension cord, a grocery bag full of already-popped popcorn, some lollipops, and a few empty cups.

There's a new sheriff in town--um, I mean, warden--and the rules are a little tighter.  I wasn't sure about the lollipop sticks or this change in our normal Bible-study-style Friday meetings, so we made our way up to the warden's office to give him a rundown. This guy is a real answer to prayer.  "Sure, whatever! I'm just so glad you want to work with these boys who need God," was his reply, and he reminded us again that he's also a Christian.

We figured out how to rig up the dvd player and got Facing the Giants loaded up.  I was once again thankful for my resourceful husband who can MacGyver his way through practically anything.  Four or five of the most faithful "attendees" gathered around the tiny tv and I started scooping popcorn.

At first, they weren't too interested in the movie, and several left to meander around the yard.  This is, after all, a football movie.  Some of the themes just don't translate well.  But once the teams took the field and the action got rolling, a crowd gathered around that little tv, including a few guards. 

We laughed at the funny parts, they snickered every time the star cried (not exactly what a Paraguayan man would do in the same situations), we moved around as the sun shifted, and we enjoyed Coke and popcorn.  

Ken handed out lollipops during a lull, and I warned them not to use the sticks for evil.  They assured me that only the adults use homemade knives.  I wish I could believe them. 

Surprisingly, when the movie was over and it was time for my talk, they all stuck around.  Quite a crowd had gathered by then, so the discussion on making God a real priority in our lives and how that plays out, fell on a lot of ears.  I reminded myself as we were leaving that His Word doesn't go out void.


  1. You know, the most important thing that you did for those "boys" was to show up as promised. I bet they are used to a lot of broken ones. Our words do matter, but consistency and genuine concern is what will show them the love of God the most. Don't get discouraged when you don't see results, because you never know what God is doing on the inside of those hearts. God bless you guys and Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I'm trusting God to water those seeds and do His work in their hearts. :) Merry Christmas!!


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