I arrived expecting to see horrific conditions in the prisons of
Nairobi, Africa. I had read notorious accounts of prison life and the terrible
conditions of the prison. What I experienced and saw were quite unexpected...
My first invitation to preach was at the Industrial
Area Remand Prison. As much as I would have liked to share photos with you, it
is forbidden because of security reasons. (This is standard in most prisons
around the world.)
My first impression when I came through the gate
was the outer courtyard was different than some prisons. It was well landscaped
and manicured. The officers I met were friendly and courteous. (Which isn't
always the case in prisons.) I was thinking to myself; "I'm sure it is not
like this on the inside, deep within the prison walls? Can it be this orderly
We had to wait quite awhile before we were ushered
into the actual prison. Security is high and for good reason. This "Remand" prison is the place where people who are arrested go and
wait for their court hearings. In Africa this system can be multiple years at
best. There are over 600-900 male inmates being held here at any given time.
As I entered inside the prison walls I was
suspicious, expecting filth, decay, unlivable conditions. As I followed the officers around the corner, the first thing I saw were several inmates watering
down the floors and sweeping them clean in the outdoor courtyard. I was surprised as they led me into the “actual”
living quarters of the inmates to speak to the male juveniles. When I looked around, I noticed the bunk beds were properly made and the rooms were surprisingly in order. Please keep in mind, this is still a prison but well maintained.
What God did was amazing. Throughout the Gospel message, you could see God touch each those young hearts. All but two of these juveniles got on their knees at the end of the message and surrendered their lives
to Jesus. “They arrived as boys and will
be leaving this prison as men of God.” Awesome!
I was later ushered to the main outdoor courtyard where I
spoke to the adult population. There were men throughout the courtyard
curious as to what this blonde-haired, white woman was going to say. The officers asked me to come around to the other side of the fence that partitions off the
courtyard. I was surprised to discover this is where I was to give the message... on
the other side of this fence partition. This was a new experience for me, to preach with a chain-link fence between the inmates and myself.
I was concerned my voice would not project enough
for all to hear without a microphone. Realizing the conditions, the team quickly prayed for my voice. Not only did God project my voice like an amplifier... but I could hear it echoing
off of the walls throughout the entire prison! Despite the many obstacles, God did a great work - He flowed through that prison like a mighty river, and many men
came to Christ!
Afterwards, it is proper to say hello to the officials in charge in Africa. We could learn from this practice in America. I was escorted out to meet the Commissioner of the entire Providence. A Providence is similar
to a very large and heavily populated county in the U.S. I also met the Commanding Officer of
the Industrial Area Remand Prison.
When I was escorted into their offices, I was overjoyed to be greeted by impressive strong leaders... who to my surprise... both happen
to be women! This excellence in leadership and prison
appearance is accomplished because the top level of leadership in Nairobi prisons is run by quality women... (and men) of excellence!
Thank you Jesus - these inmates deserve our very best!