Mark Richardson is still sick and not able to travel with us today. He is staying behind at the guest house.
Mark Sigl has another abscess and they are going to have to put him under general Anesthesia to remove it so he will be in the hospital for the day today while we go to our final two presents. Nathan will be staying behind with him while the rest of the team does the prison Crusades.
We have a microbus today so we can all travel together. John has come from Pokhara to be with us for our final day of ministry. He was with us in 2016. It’s great to be with him again.
We went to Thamel to purchase the humanitarian aid. Today we are taking 50 jackets to the smaller prison and 150 thermal underwear sets to the larger prison.
We are expecting the same level of restrictions at the prisons today. This is been a very difficult week of ministry in that we have not been able to share the gospel and we have been very restricted with our access and the amount of time we have been given in the presence. However, we are optimistic that we have been doing a great job helping Yakub and Manju to gain favor with the prison officials. They will be able to come at Christmas time and share openly because that is the Kristienn festival time so they are given more freedom then. The work we are doing here should open the doors of the prisons for them for future visits.
We are taking lots of humanitarian aid to the inmates, providing well for their needs, both medically and physically. We know that those that God has appointed to salvation will hear the gospel if not from us then from the nationals that are here on the ground. The training that we have provided has encouraged the nationals to want to become more involved so we know that our work here is not in vain but is all to the glory of God.
Dhulikhel prison is about an hour outside of Kathmandu. We passed a water park with a giant Buddha feature in the park and the Kailashnath Mahadev Statue (the world’s tallest Shiva statue) on the hilltop above it.
I remembered this prison when we arrived precisely at our scheduled time (noon) and waited about ten minutes for the Officer in Charge (OC). There was another secular NGO that had just finished there. I don’t know if they had a program but they work to find housing and to care for children with incarcerated parents. They pointed out that if there is no home for these children they can stay in the prison with their parent until the age of 10 with no education. Imagine how far behind a child would be if he/she lived in a prison for ten years with no education.
We entered the OC’s office and he welcomed us in English an very shortly invited us to begin our program. I presented our gifts to him and took a photograph. He told us we could bring one camera into the prison with us.
We entered the very short door into the prison, which was laid out very similarly to another prison we were in earlier this week (I can’t remember which one, they all blend together by the end of the trip). Yakub told me that many of the inmates were not invited to the service because a couple inmates broke out of the prison recently and a bunch of other inmates began fighting so they were on close security.
We were given a lot of freedom to speak and move about the courtyard and interact with the 62 inmates that were in attendance. We were able to take a lot of photos, as well.
Paul gave the IGL message and served as emcee followed by Dan giving his testimony and Tom preaching a short sermon. I closed the service with a call to repentance and then I presented the gifts. We gave them ibuprofen, a soccer ball and 50 North Face fleece jackets.
We were allowed to distribute the jackets ourselves, giving them to the men as their names were called out by the security officers.
The men put their jackets on and gave us a big thumbs up.
We stopped for lunch on our way to Central Prison. We got stuck in gridlock in Kathmandu but made it to the prison by 3:30pm.
This is a very large prison with 1,800 inmates, all male. Security was very tight (they didn’t even let me take my passport in with me). This is a more modern prison but I could tell the conditions of the cells and the care of the inmates is poor.
About 100 aged and crippled men sat in an area by themselves behind a fence next to us. We were given very little time to talk so I gave a quick message of encouragement that they are loved, not forgotten, and can be forgiven if they will turn to God with a humble heart an seek him. It was a message of repentance and a promise that if they seek God with all their heart he promises to reveal himself to them. It was all I could do without preaching about Jesus and the sacrifice he made for the elect.
They allowed us to hand out the gifts. We had 109 thermal underwear sets and I was pleased to see that they called forward the crippled and disabled and old men that were sitting behind the fence. What a blessing it was to see that they will be warm this winter.
There were three Europeans in the prison crowd. One of them came up to us and talked to us through the fence while we were handing out the gifts. He was telling us that the conditions are terrible and that we are only enabling a corrupt system. I told him that we are well aware of the conditions but we are unable to do anything about that. He told me that we should see the conditions, we would see that they are inhumane. I told him that I have seen prisons all around the world, I am well aware of the inhumane conditions. We are here to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, I told him. He said that there are many innocent men in the prison, to which I replied that that is the same in all countries and all prisons.
He was telling me that I need to let the world know about the conditions in the prison – I told him that the world knows about it and that is not our purpose as a ministry, but that people discover the conditions when they learn of what we are doing, but we are unable to help that.
It turns out, according to Manju, that these men are incarcerated for human trafficking. I have little sympathy for them, they are where they deserve to be – in fact they probably deserve worse. I wanted to share the gospel with him but I was not in a position where I could talk to him any longer out of fear of offending the officers and getting myself thrown in a cell.
After leaving the prison we returned to the guest house to find Mark Richardson sitting at the cafe and feeling better. Paul and Dan went to the hospital to pick up Nathan and check on Mark Sigl. Mark stayed the night in the hospital and the rest of the team returned to the guest house and we went to dinner at the same place we ate a couple nights ago. It was a late dinner so we returned to the guest house around 9:00pm and got to bed late.