Prisoner Set Free!

Mark and Rueben
Pastor Richards, Rueben, Bestman and Mark

Paye, Pastor Richards, Rueben, Bestman and Mark

This story about what has happened during the prison ministry should be pretty interesting to most of you. I know it was a little shocking to me at first! While I was in Liberia a couple of weeks ago, we took a trip out to the Kakata Central Prison for the weekly ministry. I had been given strict orders by my husband that I was not to go into the prisoner's area and that was just fine with me! So, we drove out to the prison and I waited in the prison yard with Paye, our driver. The previous day Mark had been discussing with me a situation with one of the prisoners. He said there was a young kid, I would guess he is not more than 20, who needed our help. He said that he had been talking with this boy at the weekly discipleship visits and had become aware of his situation. Mark is very compassionate and is always helping people. I listened to the story and was actually a little shocked by the request! Mark said that Rueben (the prisoner), needed our help to be released from prison. Can you understand my shock?? The story was very interesting and makes sense to me now, but at first it was strange! Rueben had been a driver of a motorbike. This is a very common mode of transportation in Liberia, much cheaper and easier than getting a taxi. He was driving out near the airport and was in an accident with a vehicle and broke the windshield of the car. The accident was probably his fault but he did not have the money to pay to replace it (most Liberians would not have that kind of money on hand). The driver of the car pressed charges and had Rueben arrested. Rueben has no living family that were able to be there to help him. This was one year ago! There have been 4 different court dates to have a hearing and press formal charges but the owner of the car has never shown up for the court dates. This kid has been in jail for a year of his life, for a minor traffic accident in which the car owner doesn't even care enough to formally press charges.

While at the prison I had the opportunity to talk with Rueben, as well as the prison staff and verify that this story was indeed true. Everything checked out and it was clear that Rueben was a good kid, and did not belong in prison. The process began. We had to go to the court in Margibi County and file with the county attorney. We paid a small fee and within a week Rueben had been released! We were able to provide some basic needs for him and also some biblical counseling. Things are going very well for him now! The senator in his county has paid for a room for him to rent for the next 6 months and has also paid for him to start night school. This boy's life has taken a drastic change, all because someone felt compassion on him and showed him the love of Christ.

There is not a system in the prisons there for situations like this. We have been talking to a lot of people about this and it appears to be a chronic problem. People can be in prison for no good reason and unless they have someone to come and advocate for them they can stay there indefinitely. Please pray with us as we know that more situations like this will present themselves. Word has traveled quickly and prisoners think we are now in the business of helping them get out of prison! Pretty funny :-)

Finally, I don't want to give the impression that all or most of the prisoners are innocent or are in prison unecessarily. There are many hardcore criminals in there. We take some basic hygiene items to each prison we visit one time monthly and they have been known to reach through the bars and steal soap from us during prayer time before passing it out!

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