Ecuador Prisoners Find Freedom in Christ

September 11, 2013

Illegal drug trafficking held a certain allure for Frey, an addiction promising its own brand of psychological thrills. He certainly couldn´t complain about the profits that might make him a rich man one day while he was still young enough to enjoy them.

But money wasn´t the only perk. Frey´s line of work was dangerous, exhilarating, a wild and daring game of cat and mouse with the authorities. He knew how to outsmart them. He was the master of the sport.

Or so he thought.

Police arrested the Colombian man when they found narcotics among his belongings during one of his smuggling trips into Ecuador. Suddenly all of Frey´s lofty plans for the future evaporated. The game was over.

“At that moment, I remembered what my mother used to tell me about God when I was a child,” said Frey. “I had refused to follow Him and went my own way. I forgot about God.”

Years of criminal activity left Frey with no one to blame but himself. “I prayed, ‘Okay, God, do with me as you will,´” he said.

Even though Frey had abandoned God time after time to choose his own perilous way, the Lord of heaven did not abandon him.

Frey was sentenced to 12 years of incarceration. One day he heard a visitor from a Christian ministry called Prison Outreach of Ecuador share the gospel with a group of inmates who had gathered for prayer and worship in the jail. Frey talked privately with the man after the meeting. Convicted of his sin, he realized he had broken the hearts of God and his mother. He had disappointed himself, too.

The gospel worker told Frey of the freedom he could experience in Jesus Christ–regardless of his physical location. Not desiring to live in the chains of sin any longer, Frey prayed to accept Christ as his Savior.

He began attending Bible studies and taking correspondence classes. God´s Word came alive for him, and the discipleship training he received emboldened Frey to tell other inmates about his new-found faith. Although his outward circumstances did not change immediately, his heart already had.

Prison Outreach of Ecuador now offers hope through Christ to hundreds of inmates and their families, and many are deciding to commit their lives to Him. There are an estimated 450 active believers in the eight prisons where the ministry serves. During the past year alone, 250 people reportedly received Jesus as Savior.

Prison Outreach started a rehabilitation program for ex-convicts that included vocational training, Bible studies, and counseling. The program flourished until the government withdrew its permission for the ministry to use the public buildings it had been renting.

Aguirre and his team of workers sought the Lord´s help to continue the project. They prayed for resources to build a Bible Training and Rehabilitation Center that would serve former prisoners from all over Ecuador. An answer came when land in Machala in the southwestern part of the country was donated to them.

The ministry plans to construct a facility that initially will include three bedrooms with bathrooms to accommodate 10 male ex-prisoners. A kitchen and dining room area, a chapel, library, study room, and workshop are among the other features. Funds are needed to cover the estimated $35,000 for the building and furnishings.

Bible training will be emphasized in the two-year curriculum, as the men learn trades in carpentry, locksmithing, and metal work. Upon completion of the program, they will be equipped both to earn an income and to be disciples for Christ wherever they go.