Jesus told His followers the reason why they could be numbered among the goats or the wicked when He returns in the clouds of heaven: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” Matthew 25:41–43. One statement that stands out to me in these verses is about visiting those in prison. It is not very pleasant to work in prison ministry. Dealing with inmates who have committed heinous crimes is often revolting to our characters. Yet those who are followers of Jesus will not neglect this most important work. Christ’s work while walking among fallen humans was to “proclaim liberty to the captives…” Luke 4:18. “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps…” 1 Peter 2:21. Christ has left us an example of going to the incarcerated and preaching the message of deliverance through the gospel. Of all people, those who are in prison need the gospel more than any others.
There are more than 1,000 inmates at Nyamushekyera prison, the largest penitentiary in Southwest Uganda, Africa. Many are murderers, rapists, and thieves who were tried and convicted of their crimes. Many are seeking peace in their troubled hearts in this prison. Retired Pastor James Musinguzi and his wife Jane visit this prison every Sabbath afternoon and give Bible studies to the inmates under the hot African sun. Pastor James begins the services with singing hymns, and then each man recites the memory text that was given him the previous Sabbath. Many of them rehearse an entire chapter from the Bible perfectly. Pastor James then delivers an evangelistic sermon on the doctrines of the Bible.
Pastor James completed a whole series of studies and appealed for the people to be baptized into God’s remnant church. More than 400 prisoners requested baptism that they might begin their lives anew in Christ. After the follow-up work of examining each person to see if they had any questions and to see if they were in harmony with the message, around 200 were found to be truly ready. The date was chosen for the baptism, but the warden for the prison did not like Seventh-day Adventists. He told Pastor James that these men “didn’t come to prison to change religions.” Pastor James gathered a group of believers from the church and began praying that God would clear the way for the candidates to be baptized. The next week Pastor James found that the warden of the prison had been transferred and replaced with a man who was friendly to Adventists. God works in very mysterious ways!
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Yours in rescuing souls from the prison house of sin,