Church leaders extend their ministry to bring local prisoners close to Christ
What does it mean to truly love your neighbor? And who is that neighbor? Our ministry team recently posed this question at a church leaders conference in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The ministry team defined the “real neighbor” of Christians as someone who is in need spiritually or physically or someone who is suffering and needs to be saved. These leaders took the question to heart and decided that the nearby prisoners were their real neighbors. At the conclusion of the session, the Samaritan’s Purse ministry team and the conference participants decided to go and visit the prisoners every day after the conference.
“The conference helped me to see and treat [care for] people who are in need,” said Pastor Mbali Pierre. “I realized that I was an evangelist who only looked after the spiritual aspects of people’s lives while ignoring other aspects of their lives. I need to be committed to helping people in different areas, with the little I have, for my ministry to be effective.”
The church leaders arrived at the prison equipped with leftover food, water for bathing, water to drink, evangelistic tools, songbooks, and Bibles. In addition to providing the prisoners with physical aid, the ministry team and conference participants enjoyed fellowship with the prisoners through praying with them, sharing the Word of God, and encouraging them.
As a result of the great love shown by the team, the prisoners were able to experience the love of God, and 31 prisoners accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior—a testament to the power of God and His ability to change hearts.
“Since you brought us Bibles and songbooks, we have started to do devotions in the prison,” said 23-year-old David Likambo, a prisoner. “The devotions give us peace in our hearts. We also thank you for the teachings you brought us from the Bible, because before you shared about forgiveness, I was preparing to seek revenge against the person who accused me and caused me to go to prison. Since you taught us about forgiveness, I have forgiven that person, and I am teaching my prison mates to forgive those who have offended us.”
One of the ways our staff members and conference participants have shared the Gospel is through the Jesus film. It was a huge success. The prisoners loved it so much that they begged the staff to show it again.
The conference participants, along with their churches, still continue with frequent visits to the prison to continue reaching those who have yet to receive Christ.
We praise the Lord for the way He has worked in the hearts of these prisoners and believe “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).