- A day in Machakos prison.
We drove to Machakos by minibus, which is the town adjacent to YWAM's base Athi River, approximately an hours drive away from Nairobi. We stopped at a mall to stock up on some groceries, as well as gifts for the day’s outreach that went to the city's prison - Machakos Prison. We continued this part of our journey in tuk-tuks to the prison. We were six to seven people per tuk-tuk, travelling at a maximum of 10 km/h. Outside the prison gates, we met the other teams that had already arrived. We were a large group with teams from Australia, Germany, USA, as well as our team from Norway.
As we entered the gates, we noticed that the guards were armed. This didn’t lighten the mood for those of us who were already wondering what would meet us behind these walls. Before we could go in to where the prisoners were, we had to be approved by the prison director. We were informed the day before, that he’s a Muslim. He invited into his office. "Welcome!" He said. "It's so good that you’re here. The best thing you can give the prisoners is the Word of God." We were surprised, and didn’t quite know what to say. John - a bold American who came to Kenya to do his DTS, seized the opportunity and offered to pray with the prison director. The two prayed together while the rest of us left the office. We were approved by our new friend, the Muslim prison director.
Then we had to go through two lattice gates. We entered a large prison yard where there were many prisoners walking around. They were all dressed in white prison clothes with black stripes, like in old movies. We were told that we would enter the "maximum security" part of the prison and therefore had to go through another lattice door. In the safest part of the prison they had already rigged up for worship. The prison pastor had already warmed up the congregation, and a worship band made up of prisoners were singing and playing instruments. The prisoners had prepared a program for us. A men's choir performed several spiritual songs in Kiswahili, and a gymnastics troupe performed incredible acrobatics for us. They were so impressive that we wondered why none of them had skipped the walls and escaped. Then it was our turn to contribute. I was asked to come forward to speak. I shared about prophecy, and begaen to tell them about the prophet Daniel.
When the people of Israel were in captivity in Babylon, Daniel reads about Jeremiah the prophet. He writes that if the people of Israel seek God with all their heart, they will be given an answer about when they can return from exile. Daniel’s response to this is to pray to God with a whole heart, and the people of Israel get to return home from captivity.
I then shared one of my favorite prophecies from Isaiah: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given (...)" He was born into the world as a human, therefore he can also understand all our troubles, and heal all our wounds. What is our response to the prophecy? Do we believe in its fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth? Are we seeking God with a whole heart like Daniel did?
I continued by sharing how Jesus is in prison with them. "I was in prison and you came to visit me." And ended with the power of forgiveness - "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors". In the middle of my talk, I had to take a break - the prisoners needed to be counted. This happens three times a day and three times at night to make sure that no one escapes.
After I finished, John from the US took the microphone and shared from Romans 8: 31-34:
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also,
along with him, graciously give us
all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies. Who then
is the one who condemns? No one.
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the
right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Finally, the microphone was given to Pastor Barasa, the leader of the YWAM Athi River base. He invited people to respond to the call of Salvation. About 40 prisoners wanted to know more about Jesus and stayed after the service. An American girl from the Germany team ended the service with a prayer. I have never heard anyone pray so full of spirit and power. The next few days we bought twelve Bibles for all the barracks in the prison, so everyone would have access to a Bible.
"For freedom, Christ has set us free" - even in prison.
Outreach with YWAM Oslo to Kenya Christmas 2018
//Written by: Thomas, DTS-student