Palau has one prison with both male and female inmates. At the moment there is only one female inmate, which is vey difficult for her.
The inmates have a ‘storyboard’ thing going on: a traditional way of storytelling where they carve images in wood, paint or oil that, and then sell those.
It’s really well done, but products that have been manufactured this way cannot be imported to all countries, due to restrictions. Presumably it has to do with forced labour of some kind as the inmates are paid for their labour only.
Ruth Snyder has had a prison ministry for over 12 years, with help from some people of the Assemblies of God-church. They meet with the people on Thursdays and Sundays.
It’s nice to connect with an existing ministry – a lot of doors are already open, groundwork already laid out, do’s and dont’s are already identified.
And so we travelled Thursday night (the 19th) to the Palauan jail for the first time.
When we came in, pastor Ruth was already present; she distributed some song books and together we sang some songs – some known, some completely unknown – to us.
She then followed up with reading from the Bible about Mary and the angel, and sharing her understanding of it. Timely since it is almost Christmas. Surprisingly, she also took up an offering so the inmates did have a possibility to tithe, in some way.
Afterwards we had a possibility to share, minister, intercede and all that on a more personal level, one-on-one or at least few-on-one.
Group settings can be inhibiting to people sharing, and it appears even more so in a prison setting. However the guys did not have much problems sharing when being one-on-one.
I talked a bit with two guys, who shared a bit of their thoughts and appreciations, and I asked them what I should pray for. Change of heart, they said. If anyone know how you facilitate a heart change, let me know. I prayed for that and that’s imo most important.
Additionally, we’re off-islanders so what they share with us doesn’t go around. With a small – harsh – community inside, and a only somewhat bigger community outside (20000 people, almost twice the size of my home town), people know pretty much everything about everybody. If you have been convicted…
But it is an interesting ministry and participating is a good use of our time.
The Sunday afterwards, we met up once more, though Ruth could not be there. Instead, we had Caleb from Kenia leading worship with his guitar. He has a good ear and is an able guitarist; the plan was to share our stories (aka testimonies – in christianese), so we wouldn’t be too unknown/weird/strange. Well, unsure if that did any good as of the 5 inmates that had showed up, 2 left.
Then again, you really can’t tell how many ears have heard what we shared since there is much unseen.
It has a lot to do with expectations.