Twelve men approached. The one right in front of the group made his way directly to the guitar. He picked it up and began strumming, singing a hauntingly beautiful song in his Wulpiri language, that echoed through the halls of Darwin prison. A song, he explained later, the Lord had divinely inspired him to write while in prison in Alice Springs. Even though we couldn’t understand the lyrics, they were obviously deeply meaningful.
Yvonne welcomed all who were there, prayed, and we continued praising and worshipping. Another inmate sang ‘This is the Day that the Lord has Made’ in his own language. The joy and sense of community and togetherness drew us all in as we clapped with lifted spirits at the gift of belonging together.
Our Alice Springs friend then offered to play and sing his song again, and without necessarily understanding the words, we felt the essence of wonder in this song. He went on later to explain his song encapsulated the beauty and mystery of God’s call to him.
Victor asked Zebedee*, another of the inmates, to pray. With a heart impassioned with love for his Lord he prayed a beautiful prayer. Zebedee’s well-worn Bible with its pages coming loose hinted at his commitment. Waiting now for over a year, he longs for the day he can be baptized. At least two other inmates, Ben* and Luke*, seem to be committed to reading their Bibles too. Ben* admitted that before entering prison, he wrestled on a dark road with drug addiction and many other things he was not proud of. But since coming to prison, Ben shared that he has found faith in God and salvation through Jesus. The unimaginable peace of Christ can be encountered in the most unlikely places – when and where the world least expects!
Victor gave a talk about faith, mainly drawing on Hebrews 11 and Daniel 3, which was part of a mini-series on faith, begun on his previous visit. Luke* said that after Victor’s
last talk about faith, his daily devotional reading the following day was about faith, and he really felt God was speaking to him on the importance of this in his journey! These inmates have noticed that whomever they pray for, even those that they consider enemies, show signs that their prayers are being answered and they have seen a pattern.
When we finished, Zebedee stayed back and we prayed with him. He is a young man full of the joy of the Lord. He said that he has five or more inmates at a time in his “house” for Bible study and worship. He said most of the wardens are not hindering them as they do this. He shared that because he is younger, his greatest challenge has been for the “elders” of his people to listen to him. But the elders are starting to come around. Zebedee* was hoping to be out by Christmas but as he has not heard anything from the officials, he is content to let God determine if he is meant to stay longer and keep ministering to more of his fellow prisoners.
All these stories come, seemingly randomly, from different lives. But they find substance and meaning and connection in the story of life and experiences found in the common and uniting truth of redemption… and how the Word of God speaks above all.