Recently, God opened the door for me (Phil) to go with a team of pastors, evangelists, and volunteers to our local federal penitentiary to minister to the mentally ill and other prisoners.
We first visited with the mentally handicapped who are housed there. Their crime? Being mentally handicapped. Here, when families have a mentally handicapped family member, they can petition a judge to declare them incapable to care for themselves, and that they are an “unfair burden” on the family. They are then sentenced to jail until such time the family is willing and able to adequately care for them – it is a life sentence for them.
It was amazing to see these mentally handicapped men lift their hands and sing praises to the Lord, and hear them recite Scriptures for memory. They were so thankful for the food we served them and the clothes that were donated to them. There is a woman in our church here who ministers to these folks every week. Her name is Eva, but those men call her, “ma”, or “mom” because she loves them and cares for them like their families ought to be caring for them.
I was able to see the horrible conditions these men have to live in because they are considered less than a human being. The fact is, some people love and care for their pets better than than they do their handicapped family members. I’m so thankful for “ma” and our assistant pastor, Gumaro, who have a heart for this ministry and that they introduced me to it.
After visiting with the mentally ill inmates, we went over to the regular inmates side to hold an evangelistic service for them. It was visitation day for all the inmates. So, what I saw was amazing. We met under a big tent which was close to a corner of a chainlink fence. All around that fence, the inmates had made little tents out of blankets for them to visit and eat with their families. Most of them sat on the dirt and grass floor.
It was pure joy to listen to those Christian inmates sing praises to the Lord with all their hearts, and watch them look up Scriptures on their own. Some who did not have Bibles were quoting Scriptures from memory. This speaks highly of the inmate pastor who teaches them well. Though there were no decisions for Christ, many of the non-believing inmates and their families, who had their tents by our tent, heard the Good News message of Christ.
I pray that God will open the door for Jami and me to go with “ma” and Pastor Gumaro to minister to all these inmates on a more regular basis. Thank you all for your prayers and I ask that you continue to pray for us as Covone Ministries evolves and tries to reach more and more people for Christ.
Hey, come see us, sometime! We would love to have you. God bless you all.