Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prison Visit

This morning (Sunday, March 16) Br. Hilton Togara and I went to the Central Prison in Honiara at Rove with the Chaplain, Fr. Ellison, to conduct a Bible Study. It is a tiny prison, but with all the razor wire and concrete to confirm it as the real thing. Waiting until 9:00 we sat in a leaf roofed shelter with a Roman Catholic seminarian and two Catholic laywomen.

We signed in and were patted down. This being the Solomon Islands, the guards were all friendly and there was laughter and exchange of pleasantries. It was a pleasant though stark contrast to security guards in the US prisons I have visited. We were led to B block and went in to a smallish concrete room, with three concrete tables and "benches." A television was bolted to the wall. The men live through another door, which appeared to lead into an open room.

About 24 men gathered, some sitting on the benches some on the floor. We introduced ourselves, and then one of the men took up a guitar and started leading praise songs. I learned later he is one of the men sentenced for life. Lifers live among the general population, but have special roles, especially as cooks for the jail.

Inspired by the Bible studies we led on the Simply Living Mission to England last year, we used some questions about the Beatitudes. Our text was "Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Hilton divided the group into two, and I sat with about a dozen men. They weren't quite sure what "mercy" meant, but one launched into a long sermon about "the blood of the Lamb." Finally I got one or two to share about times they did NOT hurt somebody else no matter how richly they may have deserved it. A third spoke of realizing he needed to be merciful to all the people he hated and how he had to accept all God's mercies: food, water, air, clothing, even when he had no freedom, God is merciful in so many ways.

Out of the depths O Lord, we call to you...

As we left the Chaplain, Fr. Ellison said he is so grateful to the SSF Brothers because they are his partners in the hospital and prison ministries every Sunday, starting at 4:30 a.m. Holy Communions in the Hospital and the 9:00 a.m. worship in the prison.

For his part, Hilton was simply grateful to be able to be with "his brothers" in prison.

Lord make me a channel of your peace...where there is despair, hope, where there is sadness joy...

1 comment:

Eliseo Weinstein said...

Hi Brother Clark, What a wonderful blessing you and Fr. Ellison must have been to these individuals in prison. Thank you for sharing the love of Christ with these men. My late grandfather was a minister and loved sharing the message of our Lord with others every opportunity he was given. Thank you for sharing this story.

Eliseo Weinstein @ Jr's Bail Bonds