‘I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’
Matthew 25:36, 40

Every week, teams of students head out from Peter Achimugu College of Theology to partake in evangelism. Some go door-to-door; some visit the local hospitals; some go to encourage young believers in a new church plant started by former students; while others minister to inmates in the local prison. The current members of the prison ministry team are Micah Omede, John Daniel and Emmanuel Adaidu.

In Nigeria, someone can be sent to prison for minor offences without being tried, or without a sentence being handed down. Once arrested they are locked up behind bars and can remain there for indeterminate periods of time awaiting what they hope will be a fair trial, and which often is not. One is assigned to a fifteen-bed dormitory according to the level of offence. For security reasons, the relatives of an inmate are often not informed about where their family member has been incarcerated. Cooks are employed and supported by the Welfare Department to feed the inmates. One thing that is noticeable is a general lack of medical care. As a result of a generous donation to the prison ministry work, our students have been able to supply inmates in the local prison with some basic toiletries.

Inmates commonly experience depression, as they suddenly find themselves behind bars. The students’ visits to the prison are a source of hope and encouragement, and their ministry has resulted in the positive transformation of many. Though those who congregate to listen to the students as they share Bible messages are those who have committed lesser offences, hardened criminals can also hear the teaching from their cells. The students’ ministry provides hope in a dark period of many people’s lives and provides inmates with a welcome break from the usual monotony of prison life. 

An interesting quirk of prison life is that from among their group, the inmates appoint the most spiritual person to become their de facto pastor. Our students met one of these appointed pastors. He was lured into thuggery, not knowing what it entailed. He went along with others to snatch election boxes. In the process, he was arrested and soon found himself behind bars. His trial took place after two years, and he spent a total of five and a half years in prison before he was released. He testifies that the ministry of our students brought revival to his heart, and that under their ministry he has become a born-again believer. Having recently been released, he hopes to get involved in full-time prison evangelism in the future.

The prison ministry team encountered one underage inmate of about fifteen years. His father had died and soon after, relatives had come to harass him and beat him severely. He woke up in hospital, and from there was transferred to prison. He was very confused, not knowing what had happened. It seems that this was all part of a plan by his Uncle to take over his father’s house. After nine months, he was tried and acquitted of any wrongdoing. Despite the acquittal, he was asked to pay 10,000 Naira (about £25) or spend three years in prison. Not having any way of raising the said amount, he had no choice but to return to prison and, as a result, became very despondent. When the College team shared his predicament with PACT community, the outstanding amount was raised and the young man secured his freedom. Since then he has left the area to stay with a maternal Uncle.

Another inmate, though cleared of his offences remained in prison for some weeks because his pardon form was in Abuja and it cost 20,000 Naira (£50) for someone to bring it to Ankpa. No-one knows who supplied the needed amount, but once it was paid, the man was released.

So, you may be asking how you can help? Pray for the students of PACT who go to the prison to share God’s word. Pray for wisdom as they listen to the inmates’ stories and provide counselling, offering God’s hope in their life situations. There is also an opportunity to give financially to PACT’s evangelistic work, so that the students can fulfil requests for Bibles and meet other physical needs of those they visit.