Honest Testimony Draws Inmates to God

By Esther Schaeffer, serving on the Alliance team in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa

Things were “off” that day. I had missed two weeks of outreach at our local women’s prison. When I arrived for our ministry time at the facility, I found just 1 of our 11 team members. Another joined us a bit later.

When we walked into the yard—where the prison pastor told us there were six new inmates—the guards barely greeted us. We sensed some tension. But once in the detention area, we were given a warm welcome.

Since the woman who was to lead the singing was absent, that challenging task fell to me. We began with a song based on Psalm 23, and I noted that the Holy Spirit seemed to be at work—even the guards stopped what they were doing to listen.

Despite the poor singing on my part, several of the new inmates gathered and joined in.


“Nicole” (center back), “has struggled as a single mom in this culture,” says the author. “But she has thrived on our team (also pictured) and lovingly brings food and clothing to the inmates.”

After the singing, Nicole, a member of our ministry team who visits the prison weekly, stood up to give the Bible lesson from James 4. She first explained how afraid she’d been when she realized I’d scheduled her to present the lesson.

“But God assured me He would give me the right words to share,” she said.

Nicole then described how after making a decision as a teenager to follow Christ, she had turned her back on Him and eventually gotten pregnant—before she was married. A short time after her baby’s birth, the infant’s father died.

He is Patient

Nicole was honest with the women about how she had failed many times in her attempts to walk with Christ. Yet, she said, the Lord was patient and kept calling her back to Himself.

“Today,” she said, “I am sharing His Word and rejoicing in all God has done for me.”

After we read James 4 aloud—Nicole emphasizing “anyone can draw near to God and be freed from fighting and quarrels”—three women knelt to pray in the yard, asking for God’s forgiveness and a new life in Christ. One was a prostitute who had run away from her Christian family; another had abandoned her baby; and the third, known for her rages, had poured boiling water over another inmate during a fight.

Her Story is Mine

After we prayed and were gathering our things, we noticed another woman who remained seated. Her eyes were filled with tears. “Nicole’s story is my own,” she said, when we approached.

“Many years ago,” she told us, “I accepted Christ but got involved with the wrong people, and now I’m in jail.”

Nicole, whom the Lord often gives just the right word at the right time, responded: “You can become a new person today and be rid of all your anger and hatred. Turn it all over to Jesus; draw near to God,” referring to James 4:8, which we’d just read.

Will He Take Me Back?

“Do you think that Jesus will take me back?” the woman asked. Nicole was quick to kneel beside the woman and lead her as well in a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ unconditional love.

Although everything seemed off at the beginning of our time that day in the prison, God was working, preparing the hearts of these four women to receive His forgiveness and new hope in Christ. Please pray with us that they will continue to draw near to God.


Join the Alliance family in praying for our teams in West Africa—and worldwide—who take the good news to people with little or no access to the gospel. Use the weekly Alliance Prayer Requests to assist you.

Learn More

Read “From Shame to Hope” to learn more about Alliance ministry to African inmates, including Esther’s prison outreach team in Burkina Faso.


Get Involved...


We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »


Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »


Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »