At that time we were reflecting on the theme: “An Open Door! Walk Through It!” and my wife Peggy thought that this could probably be the “Open Door” the Lord was inviting us to walk through, to be fruitful, multiply and occupy! Here, literally, was a space we could occupy, if only for 2 hours every Thursday. So she asked if we could go.
I wish I could tell you that I answered, “How wonderful, honey! Let’s go! Let’s walk through the open door, and occupy Quezon City Jail!” However, that was not the case. Instead, I said: “What? Are you crazy? Ano ang gagawin natin doon? Hindi naman tayo magaling magdasal sa Tagalog!” (What are we going to do there? We're not good in praying in Tagalog!)
So what is a husband to do, if his wife seems so intent in going to a place that could be dangerous to her? Leave her alone with the lions and the wolves?
But in the days that followed, I was led to reflect on Matthew 25 where Jesus says:
‘I was in prison and you did not visit me.' And when we answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you in prison and did not take care of you? ' He will answer, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'
I felt convicted, and eventually, I decided to go, but only until other Ligaya members, who could better pray and preach in Tagalog, will be available to take over. One Thursday led to another, and we have now been serving in QC Jail for the past 5 months.
So what have we been doing?
We take advantage of the fact that we have a captive audience for 2 hours. There is no escape from us. We start out with worship, ably led by Ben Salvedia from North A, and supported by an inmate music ministry group. Then as the Spirit leads, we give teachings, exhortations and personal sharings. Every week we provide a simple snack and give basic necessities, such as soap and other toiletries.
Little did I realize how God had been working in us and using us for His mission, until one Thursday, I received a letter scribbled on cigarette wrappers, and I quote:
“…Nawa’y huwag kayong magsawa sa pag-tulong at panga-ngaral sa katulad naming kapos palad at nakalimot kay Lord. Pero unti-unti akong nahuhubog sa mga aral at pag-intindi sa mga salita ng Diyos. Dito ko nalalaman ang katotohanan, ang tungkol sa mga salita ng bibliya na dapat sundin ng mga taong tulad ko, na naligaw ng landas…” (I hope you will not tire of helping and teaching us who are underprivileged and who have forgotten the Lord. Little by little I have been formed by the teachings and understanding the Word of God. I learn the truth here, about the Bible verses that we who have lost our way, should obey...)
- We have heard inmates share how prison life became better for them when they started reading the Bible.
- We have heard them share the joy they felt after forgiving those who put them in jail.
- We have seen men wanting to accept Jesus and asking us how.
- We have experienced the joy in leading them to Jesus.
They have so appreciated what we have shared with them that, believe it or not, there have been some inmates who have approached me, asking me how they can join Ligaya after they get out of prison.
We thank you, brothers and sisters, for the support you have given us. Many have taken time off from work, simply to just be there for the prisoners. Some of you have chosen to celebrate your birthdays at the jail, sharing food and drinks with the inmates. Others have expressed their commitment in other ways, such as praying for our ministry, or donating in cash or kind. We continue to pray for your support.