What message does one give to a prison full of inmates who committed capital offences? Most are sentenced 20 years or more. Others are on death row. As we approached the high-walled Naivasha maximum security prison, my eye caught the sign: “This is a crime free area.” I was not sure if that was supposed to give me comfort. I started my sermon with this ice breaker: “Seeing the high walls and all the security guards, I can assure you that I feel very safe in this prison. What the guards don’t know is that you are innocent, because you are forgiven. You are just experiencing the consequences of your actions.” While the smiles were still visible on the inmates’ faces, I turned to Isaiah 61:1 and read:
“The Lord has anointed me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
I wanted them to know that God’s love alone holds the key to their liberty.
Before the sermon, we graduated 210 inmates who studied the Bible lessons sent by Light Bearers. Shaking the hand of each one, seeing their joy and listening to their testimonies made me realize the powerful impact these studies have. I knew there was joy in heaven at the sight of these souls that are saved for eternity!
Ndegwa was on death row. He had no hope of ever being released. The team who does the prison ministry had introduced the Bible lessons to him. He eagerly studied the set of lessons and his life was transformed. The power of God’s grace had touched his heart. If God has forgiven him, why could he not appeal to the president of Kenya who has the “power of mercy” to release anyone? He decided to send his Bible lesson certificate to the president as proof of his change of heart. Shortly afterwards, his case was reviewed and he was set free. Ndegwa was baptized and now serves as an elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Ndegwa was on death row. He had no hope of ever being released.
The 110 prisons in Kenya are literally flooded with literature from Light Bearers. Since the commissioner general of Kenya’s prisons has directed that an Adventist chaplain be assigned to each prison, the doors have flung wide open for us to evangelize inmates. The chaplaincy positions have created a channel for the church to reach the inmates using literature from Light Bearers. Literally thousands of inmates have read and studied the material and hundreds of baptisms have resulted. I had the privilege of witnessing 35 baptisms during my recent visit to a prison in Naivasha. Not just prisoners, but also the prison staff are given the opportunity to study God’s word through the lessons.
Hospitals and a Supermarket Chain
The East Kenya Union Conference is trying to take every opportunity they can to enter with Light Bearers literature. During my recent visit to a hospital, we graduated patients in their hospital beds who had completed the Bible study course, along with one cook, a doctor and a nurse.
Adventists have been given the opportunity at one of the country-wide supermarket chains to have worship with the workers before starting their daily duties. The owners of the store, Indians from the Hindu religion, said that their workers perform better when they can express their religion. More honest and hardworking employees is the result. This gave the opportunity to introduce Bible lessons from Light Bearers to the workers. Now, graduations are taking place during morning worship at these supermarkets.
The East Kenya Union Conference was looking for someone who could read the Bible lessons in the Somali language on the Adventist World Radio station. Abrahim Abdul, from north Kenya, was invited to help with this task. As a result, Abrahim became a pastor and is now ministering to a small group of Somali believers who have accepted Christ through the Bible lessons. Because they are Muslim, this group is meeting in secret at the Union offices. More members are being added to the group as they share the literature with others of Islamic faith.
A much neglected group is the deaf community in every country. In 2007, the East Kenya Union Conference decided to reach out to the deaf in Kenya and enrolled deaf students in the Bible lesson courses with Light Bearers literature. This past year, 43 deaf people were baptized. The union has sponsored five deaf people to study theology and to come back and minister to the deaf. This year alone, three camp meetings have been organized for the deaf.
To all those who enable Light Bearers to keep a steady flow of gospel literature coming to Africa, thank you! It is much needed and dearly appreciated. Eternity will tell the stories.