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Reaching the Unreached . . . In Prison

July 14, 2009

Ministry leads a Bible study for inmates

For over 50 years Christian Aid has been assisting indigenous missionaries in seeking out unreached people groups for the kingdom of God. Generally, these people groups are hidden in the remote villages of various lands throughout the 2/3 World.

However, there are segments in every culture that are often neglected when it comes to evangelization: the homeless, AIDs victims, drug addicts, the physically impaired (including the deaf, blind, and paraplegic), the mentally impaired or mentally ill, criminals in prison (and their families), or parolees seeking help to re-establish their lives.

Prison Outreach of Ecuador (POE) works with prisoners. They not only address the need of salvation and a new life in Christ to the prisoners, but also reaches out to the extended families. And their witness does not stop when they exit the prison gates; it follows the ex-cons as they prepare for productive lives in the community.

Returning to “. . . family life and finding employment with a criminal record and lack of skills are enormous challenges,” Angel Aguirre told Christian Aid. Angel, an ex-convict himself, has first-hand experience in such matters. “Our ministry has seven facets: evangelism, discipleship, social work, leadership training, legal aid, scholarships, and financial assistance. Women constitute about 9% of Ecuador’s prison population. A children’s ministry is another aspect of our work – including children who come to visit their parents. Our prison ministry extends beyond the walls of the 12 institutions we serve,” he explains.

Baptism of an inmate

While national laws demand the rehabilitation of prisoners, few facilities have the space, staffing, or equipment to accomplish this. “With the help of Christian Aid, we began our own rehabilitation program in 1998. We taught skills such as carpentry, masonry, metalwork, painting, and other trades. The rehab center was located on a plot of land provided by the municipal government and the building was constructed by ex-convicts who had completed the training programs.”

Sadly, when an intolerant regime came into office, permission to continue the program on government property was withdrawn. “We packed up all of our equipment and placed it in storage. Right now Bible studies and emotional support are offered in a rented space, but we are praying to start another rehab center. We were able to purchase land in Machala, but need funds to purchase building materials for the construction of a new facility,” he says.

Angel concludes on an upbeat note: “Despite this setback, other areas of the ministry continue to thrive by His grace. We are hopeful and look forward to ‘doing time’ for many years to come!”

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