“…I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
The River City Christian (Sacramento, CA) Men’s Ministry mission team has visited prisons in Mexico and Guatemala on their different Men’s mission trips over the years. In their previous nine trips to minister and partner with the Pacto they had never been able to visit a prison here in Colombia. Evangelism is a strong passion and gifting for Jeff Koons, the Men’s pastor, and he anxiously awaited an opportunity to fulfill that passion in a Colombian prison on one of his mission trips to Colombia. Finally, this year, Julio Isaza was able to make the connection and arrangements through the representative for Prison Fellowship for the nine-member team and for Julio and Gary to spend four hours with more than seventy inmates.
As we entered Bella Vista prison we left everything behind (cell phones, wallets, etc) and just took the props for a box skit and Gospel tracts. No pictures were taken, nothing but the tracts were able to be left inside, and memories were made as God stories were shared – by the team and by the inmates. There was a fast camaraderie established as we sat amongst the inmates and listened and shared. The Gospel message was clearly given and received as God is a God of love and not of condemnation. There was surprising little tension felt as we walked around and were able to visit the cells and cell blocks and see the living conditions of the over 400 inmates in the section where we were. A few hopes were expressed as some of the inmates were close to finishing their time and were hoping for some Christian contacts upon their release.
As we were exiting the prison, our fingerprints were taken one more time and compared to those that we gave as we entered. Everyone matched and we left with hearts full because we went and visited with Jesus in Bella Vista prison.