By Esther Schaeffer, serving on the Alliance team in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa
“It’s never been done before.” That was the warden’s response when Pastor Kindo asked if we could host a Saturday morning praise service in the prison yard.
Permission was granted. But our plans were threatened a few days before the event when two inmates clambered over the wall in an attempt to gain their freedom.
They were quickly hauled in, and immediately the prison went on lock down. This prevented our Bobo team from holding its weekly Bible study with the female inmates.
Thankfully, the praise service wasn’t canceled. On Saturday morning outside the prison’s gated walls a large group from a number of local churches gathered, including:
- Pastors and church members,
- Volunteer Christian musical artists, and
- Church women laden with the food they had prepared for the more than 700 resident prisoners.
Don’t Ignore Him
But after our group set up in the courtyard and the worship began, the inmates remained in their cells. Prisoners in the courtyard put their fingers in their ears, indicating their resistance to hearing the music.
One of the pastors quickly grabbed the microphone. “The Lord God has come to speak to you today,” he declared to the men. “If He has been willing to come into this place to speak to you, what hope do you have if you ignore Him?”
Immediately, the atmosphere changed as inmates came pouring out of their cells. It got to a point where our team became a bit unsettled because of the number of prisoners pushing and shoving to attend the service in the yard.
My Life Was Changed
Once the music ended and the message was shared, the pastor who had called out the prisoners testified that he was jailed for the first time at age 13. He had once stood in the same yard where they were standing.
“But my life was changed when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior,” he explained. When he shared how the Lord Jesus wanted to change their lives too, 15 inmates raised their hands to receive Him—a true prison break.
You Feed Everyone
After the service, all of the guards and prisoners received fish and rice to eat.
“You Christians surprise us,” one man remarked to our team. “You feed everyone, no matter who we are, our religion, or what people group we belong to. When others come here, they feed their own people and ignore the rest of us. But you help all of us.”
Jesus sends us to proclaim liberty to all who are captive, not just those behind prison walls. He is the only One who can break us free from the bonds in which Satan has enchained us. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Please intercede for our prison team to continue faithfully demonstrating the true gospel of Christ. Ask Him to use us to facilitate eternal liberty for all in bondage to the enemy.
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.
“Genuine Religion” tells how Esther and her team effectively minister to another marginalized people group in Burkina Faso: widows.