As I sat in the back of a white Nissan van that was slowly winding its way up a very narrow steep road, accompanied by three other volunteers and our driver Eric, I looked to my left and saw a view that was breath taking.
I looked down over valleys that were covered in lush green. On the sides of the jungle hills, you could see small houses here and there. As I raised my view over the valleys, I could see clear to the ocean, with it’s beautiful blue waves rolling toward the sandy beaches that ran for miles.
We were well up a mountain in Jamaica heading to the Boys Youth Correctional Jail. As the buildings, fences, and razor wire came into view, I soon forgot the beauty that was just behind me.
This prison was quite a contrast to what I was used to in Canada and the US. There were no electric powered doors, only gates with padlocks. The guard station had six windows in the front, and four of them were either broken out, or half broken out. There were no oak counters to sign the registration book on, or metal detectors to go through, just a couple of desks to go around then down a narrow hall, and through a door made of bars, not steel and glass.
To my left I could not help but notice three lock down cells, used to punish or protect the bad boys. The doors were made of rusty steel, and had large padlocks on them. The only window in the door was a slot approximately 3”X12”, that had been cut out with a blow torch.
At the end of the hall was a round room that looked to be about 25ft from one side to the other, with four ranges o! it. Each range was open to view, because there were no walls or doors in the front of them, only bars. There were no cells in the ranges, that I could see. Each range was completely open and all that I noticed when I looked in were beds, and the sad eyes of the boys who choose not to come to the service.
The service was held in the dinning room which was also connected to the circular room. As I entered this room I was happy to see 50 young men waiting to hear what we had to say. From what I could see, the boys ages ran from as young as 12 up to 18. I could not help but feel true compassion for each one of them.
My mind wandered back to the days that I was locked up in one of the correctional jails, and I knew the hurt, the home sickness, the loneliness, and the abuse, that some of the boys must be going through.
The service started with one of our volunteers doing the introductions and sharing a word. Then three of the local volunteer’s led us in song and worship. As they were singing praises I went into prayer. I wanted so much to make a di!erence in the young lives of these boys. I knew without the boldness and help of the Holy Spirit, I had no power whatsoever, so I left the natural realm and went into the spiritual realm, where I called in Jesus name to be anointed with the Holy Spirit.
One of our volunteers shared from his heart, telling how much love he has for the Lord. The boys enjoyed his every word. Then he turned the floor over to me, and again Jesus did not let me down. I shared some of my testimony about when I was their age, and I am sure I added Gods love to that as I went along. I cannot remember everything that was said through me, but one thing I will remember, is that when the chance to accept Jesus as their Saviour was given, Twenty-Four boys stood up out of their seats, came to the altar, looked up to the heavens, raised their arms in the air, and prayed a prayer asking Jesus to come into their heart’s and forgive their sins. Praise the Lord!
We went to each of the boys, talked to them a little shook their hand, and gave them a copy of my book. I am not sure who got the largest blessing, the boys or the team that went in.
Be Blessed in Jesus and know you are loved. Brent Bishop