What would it be like to grow up in prison? To never feel fresh grass between the toes, or visit family for the holidays? What if there were no holidays? No experience of going to the park, or the lake, or to Grandma’s house? Instead, a childhood surrounded by concrete, and harsh routine.
For the children of inmates in the Quetzaltepeque prison in El Salvador, these are not hypothetical questions. They are real and everyday life.
The nation of El Salvador currently finds itself in a state of extensive violence and social upheaval. During this past year, it has had the highest murder rate since the 12 year civil war that ended in 1992, with an average homicide rate of of 18 people per day. Gang warfare is the major factor that causes these cycles of violence, creating the adverse environment in which Christ For the City International is spreading the love, hope, peace and forgiveness of Jesus.
This includes the new ministry of The Master’s Workshop, our prison ministry. In Quetzaltepeque we are working with incarcerated mothers in the maternal section of the prison. Our missionaries in El Salvador are meeting with these women for fellowship, English classes and Bible studies. Their children stay with them in the prison, up until the age of 5.
“What I learned from the study of Ruth is that in spite of the problems we have in this world, we need to carry on. Even if we don’t have anyone to love us, God will never abandon us, and He is the one who rescues us. I know that one day I will change and be a good woman like Naomi or Ruth,“
said Blanca, a female gang member who recently completed a study of Ruth with the women.
Barbara Rowe shares about the experience,
“The women giggled when I told them that this was the best “chick flick” ever, and we speculated about Boaz, the romantic hero in the story. We studied Boaz and the Israelite practice of having a male family member as ‘redeemer,’ someone to rescue, protect, care for and provide for a widow. They listened intently to the words of Boaz to Ruth when he said, “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
‘You, too, can take refuge under God’s wings,’ I urged them. ‘We all have a redeemer in Jesus Christ, one who loves us even if there is no one else in the world to love us. He rescues, protects, provides and cares for us better than any human being ever could’”.
Barbara urges us all to pray for these precious women, many of whom feel forgotten and unloved, rejected by society and their families.
“When I look into their eyes, I see the image of God as we are all created to be.”
The most expensive item on our Christmas Catalog this year is a classroom for these women. As wonderful as the program has been, there is not adequate space for these classes. A gift of $1400 will allow us to build a classroom, to provide for both the women and their children. The prison has already identified a space for us to build, and we have the labor donated. Now, we simply need the materials.
Every visit, our missionaries are received with smiles and readiness to learn God’s word and spend time in fellowship with one another.
This Christmas, how about rallying a team from your family, friends or church community, to provide for this ministry and greatly bless the women and children in prison?
We thank God for what He is doing in reforming and blessing these lives!