Historic prisons can be quite fascinating! I've toured a few of them including Alcatraz, California and Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland. When I ponder what it would have been like to be locked up in places like these, I imagine feelings of despair, anger, hopelessness and regret. For those who eventually experience freedom I imagine the tendency is to get as far away, from their prison, as possible. Unless, of course, there is a more powerful motivation at work! A good example would be the story of one of our first year students.
Before attending university classes in Moldova, this freshman student was in prison. While incarcerated someone shared with him that God loves him! He soon gave his life to the Lord and after leaving prison he was discipled by an area pastor. He quickly grew in his new found faith and decided to attend a university where he could learn more.
During his first year of school he decided to do his practical studies in prison ministry. His love for God and love for people took him back to the place where he had spent some very difficult days. An evangelism/discipleship soccer program was soon started. Keys Ministries recently had the privilege of helping to fund the start-up of this student led ministry!
We have been told that the connection between students and prisoners is going well and many are expressing an openness to God's love for them! Even though many of these incarcerated men are serving life sentences, they are finally hearing a message of life-changing hope!
As for the soccer... our students (pictured in red) play very competitively against other students across their country, but so far they have been defeated quite handily by the prisoners (whose primary activity is soccer)! However, our students don't mind as all indications show that this ministry will grow in the years to come!
I hope this story encourages you like it does me. Each of us can use the things we enjoy doing to reach out and show love to others... no matter who they are or where they are!