Yesterday was the Christmas party for our bible study at Las Pinas City Jail. It was an incredible feeling, to walk into the corridor and stand in the middle of it, realizing how much we’ve grown from about 12 members to 60. We can’t fit into the corridor anymore so many of them set up chairs inside their cells instead. We couldn’t really play our usual Christmas games anymore because there’s a lot of them and I didn’t want to cause any undue commotion that will put them in trouble with the new warden (a very nice and gracious young lady). They requested if they can group themselves into 6 and make their own Christmas presentations.
I was so touched by the preparations they’ve made for us. From the hand-calligraphed sign on the whiteboard to preparing the sound system and all of their group presentations. The effort they’ve made is precious to us.
All the song and dance numbers were great! I especially loved that song one of the groups sang, Ako’y Binago Niya. The song was about repentance and hope, and how God can really change people. Everybody sang it, like an anthem, and it was such a profound experience for me to observe them singing together and with many of them crying quietly because they’ve made the song their own.
We distributed the prizes and our little tokens to them, and as usual I separated some items for a sick inmate. She had been sick since the first day that I joined the ministry, and some of the other inmates always made it a point to tell me if she needed anything. I couldn’t visit her inside her cell and she was too sick to visit us, but we always sent our love and made sure she heard about Jesus too. Last Monday, as I was handing the gifts that I had packed specially for her, the inmates quietly told me that she had died. Her colon cancer had taken its toll and she was taken away.
I just stood there for a moment, feeling like I could not catch my breath. It was astonishing, how my heart ached so much for her. One would think that she had died alone in jail, but though her family had all but forgotten her, she was surrounded with friends who ministered to her needs until the very end.
These moments with inmates, I treasure them in my heart. They’re golden. With the death of one of the inmates, I think God gave me a very real glimpse of His love and how very precious every single soul is to Him. I grieve for my lost sister in Christ, but I understand how it’s the end of a long and painful journey for her. Now she’s truly free.