Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners. Hebrews 13:3
A few of us go to the Quezon City jail every Thursday at 3:00 in the afternoon. How did I ever get myself into this situation? I feel I am the most unlikely person to serve there. Not only am I female(it is an all male prison),I can hardly talk in straight Filipino (the product of parents who came from different provinces and had different dialects, and therefore ending up speaking English).
It started when the son of one of our friends was sent to jail on drug charges. And then, in August, as part of our prayer community's activities, we started a time of reflection. The theme for the first week was "An Open Door! Walk through it! The following week's reflections were also so meaningful to me. And so, when an opportunity of a time slot for religious instruction in the jail was offered to us, how could I refuse that open door!? The fact that I was allowed to miss an afternoon's work every week to go there was enough of a sign for me.
On the first meeting, after someone gave a teaching, I just sat together with my husband when he led the small group sharing. Eventually, in the weeks ahead and with so few of us going regularly, I had to handle a group myself. At first, it felt so weird for me to lead a group of inmates in the small group discussions. Since I do not speak Filipino very well, I sometimes, even now, have to ask them in Filipino, "What is'______' in Filipino?" hoping one of them can translate for me.
But God can use even the most unlikely person,and the more I go to the jail, the more I grow in love and compassion for the inmates. So now, I am comfortable to sit among a small group of inmates. Many of them are very young, young enough to be my sons. Many of them are innocent and waiting for their hearings, waiting in such distressing surroundings. The Quezon City Jail is unlike the prisons in the movies, with jail cells with bars and individual beds for each inmate. Since the jail is extremely overcrowded, many of them have no space to sleep, even sleeping one person to each stair step.
But,inspite of this, in the midst of the many men who are there, I have seen men wanting to accept Jesus and asking me how; I have seen teary eyed inmates listening to me share, and men who are just so glad to have someone - anyone, visit them there. I have heard them share how light and happy they felt after forgiving those who caused them to be in jail unjustly.
Indeed, it is a joy to see God working through this ministry and to visit Jesus in (what Mother Teresa calls) His distressing disguise. "I was in prison and you came to visit me." Matthew 25:36