Laughter and Joy in a Place of Darkness – GNU’s Prison Ministry in Uganda
Nov 25, 2015 1125
The man threw back his head and laughed, stopping Pastor David Kayumba in mid-sentence.
“I wish I’d heard that great news long ago! I would not have suffered the way I have suffered.” He looked around at the audience. “We are all saved in the same way!”
This Muslim sheik has been incarcerated in Kigo Prison in Uganda for the past 26 years. He had been attracted by the gospel tent erected by Pr David in the prison grounds. At first, he hung back from the tent and listened on the sidelines, coming gradually closer as he was drawn by the message that all people—prisoners, guards and free people alike—have the same need for, and access to, the mercy and salvation of Jesus Christ.
The sheik was not the only person overjoyed. Other prisoners, who consider themselves worthless and the worst of society, could not hide their joy to learn that everyone can be put right with God through faith alone in the free gift of his Son.
Pastor David writes, “I was startled by the fact that this message sounded very new even to Christian prisoners. Freedom in Christ became their new chorus; not always welcome to everyone who visited, but the best news these men had ever heard.”
The Good News in a Dark Place
Prison ministry in Uganda is tightly controlled by both the prison authorities and the organised churches. Any church wanting to conduct prison ministry must apply and be approved by the authorities. And GNU is not a church.
However, the Lord provided friends who were willing and able to help Pastor David. One of these was Pastor Balwana Sentamu, who had been a minister in a local church, but who had parted from that church because of some disagreements. However, he was well respected by the prison authorities, and even though he was no longer connected with a formal church organisation, they invited him to continue his prison ministry. Pastor Balwana introduced Pastor David to the prison authorities, and he now supports the work of GNU.
The prisoners have received copies of Jesus Only, in either English or Telugu. The welfare officer told Pastor David: “This is the largest donation of books we have ever received from a religious organisation. Thank you for considering us worthy of this donation.”
Great Need – Great Hope
God continues to open doors. Prison management has now asked Pastor David to organise an evangelistic crusade for prison officers in December—just a few weeks away. Pastor Balwana will run this campaign and Moses will help him in this work. “They need your prayers,” writes Pastor David. “There is so much work to be done here, both for the prisoners and the officers.”
Pastor David tells us that the prisoners lack even the basic necessities of life, such as soap and bedding.
And Pastor David has another challenge requiring a creative solution. Twenty-nine prisoners have already accepted Jesus, and now they are asking for baptism. To carry out baptisms in the prison will require a mobile baptistery. This is very important for the prisoners, because a certificate of baptism is tangible proof that these men are different, and that their intention to change their lives is real.
Now GNU has begun the process of formal application to preach in Ugandan prisons. We have faith that God will remove any obstacles and the Word of the Gospel will spread fast through these places of great need.
– Eliezer Gonzalez and David Kayumba